(Photos courtesy of Bowen Arrow Photography)
Outside the Huddle is profiling which 10 area football stadiums it feels are the best around as we count down the days until (hopefully) the start of football season in August.
Each facility is rated on four factors – game night atmosphere, design, amenities and team success, as well as testimonials from the home team, the opposition and the enigmatic Blitz himself.
No. 4 Hornet Field
Location: Angola High School
First season: 1990
Playing surface: Grass
Named for: That giant insect that happens to be Angola’s nickname.
SCORE BREAKDOWN (1 – lowest; 5 – highest)
Game night atmosphere: 4.25
From the time you turn into the parking lot to the west of Hornet Field, you know something big is going down. Angola fans show up early in droves to tailgate – serving up every kind of meat you can imagine (BLITZ NOTE: This is heaven).
Like previous entries on the list such as Garrett, home football games at Angola are community events, bringing everyone out to watch the Hornets. The marching band not only adds to the atmosphere at halftime, but is as engaged into the game as any band around. Combine them with a solid student section and there is plenty of noise coming from Angola students.
Angola has one of the best side football games around – with dozens of kids running about every Friday night holding their own football games during the varsity action. It is those young kids that eventually develop into Hornets footballers.
The fact that Hornet Field is set in a bowl is unique. Driving up to the high school, at certain angles you can only see the light towers and the poles, let alone the field and bleachers. The design keeps sound inside the facility a lot better than others.
The field is immaculately maintained and has one of the bigger crowns of a field in northeast Indiana. It is excellent for drainage and helps keep even the worst rainstorms from turning the field into a deluge. There is something unique about being on the sideline and looking across the field and seeing a bunch of torsos and no legs because of the crown.
Any place that has porkburgers on the menu gets a boost automatically. While not the ultimate in porkburger quality (teaser to the No. 2 spot on our list), Angola delivers with some pig tastiness.
Perhaps the biggest boost isn’t even in the facility itself, but in the parking lots where the tailgating is going on. You can be stuffed to the gills before even entering the game if you aim to be.
The scoreboard is bright and vibrant and is easy to see, while the sight lines are excellent on both sides of the field.
Team success: 3.5
Recent success under Coach Andy Thomas has revitalized the Angola football program, with the first sectional championship in 25 years coming in 2017 and a repeat a year later.
While the Hornets slipped to 4-6 in 2019, the long-term prospects for the programs are promising, with Angola angling towards being a perennial contender in the NECC’s Big School Division.
The 27-26 victory over NorthWood in the 2018 sectional final is a recent highlight at Hornet Field, with a sectional championship game triumph in 1992 also over NorthWood being a lasting memory in many Angola fans’ minds.
Garrett coach Chris DePew: “Angola has a beautiful setting with the field sitting down the hill and the woods in the background. Their recent successes make the game seem big and the crowds large. Everything is well done and they treat visitors right.”
Angola coach Andy Thomas: “It is a great environment. We have an awesome following in our community, and our administration has done an incredible job making each game an event. When you drive up to a game the first thing you see is a pretty extensive tailgate that starts at our middle school and extends to the high school. Once you get inside, you see people congregating at our “world famous” pork burger grill and our apparel tents. Our students have been wonderful in helping to bring the energy into the stands by getting everyone involved with different theme nights and cheers. As far as the field is concerned, we may have the largest crown in the state of Indiana. :)”
From the tailgating to the picturesque setting to some darn good football, Hornet Field has everything you would want in a Friday night. Anytime a venue serves porkburgers, that is going to give it a significant boost in Blitz’s mind. The fans, young and old, are engaged and knowledgeable, only adding to the experience. A big game at Angola is one of Blitz’s favorite stops in the fall.
Coming Tuesday: No. 3