PORTAGE, Mich -- Portage Central and Portage Northern are getting new football fields, next year both schools will play at the new facility on Northern's campus and in 2 years Central will have new field as well. This Friday night will mark the final game played at old McCamley field a place very special to many in the portage community.
Named for former portage township supervisor and school board member Stuart McCamley, the field opened in 1958 and for 60 seasons has hosted many sporting events including high school football games for both Portage Central and Northern.
Legendary Portage Central head coach Bob Knight first laid eyes on the field in 1971 when he became head coach and he's spent a lot of time there since.
"I have a lot of memories, I have 5 kids and they all participated here, 3 boys played football and 2 girls ran track so we spent a lot of time sitting in the bleachers as well as coaching" Knight said. "We have a lot of memories in watching their events as well as we had some great games here."
The natural grass field would often get worn down because of so much use and the Mustangs always seemed to have an advantage playing on the home turf.
"It was always our place and we always wanted to make sure we represented our self well in front of your community" current head coach Mick Enders said. "I think through practice and everything else we have done a pretty good job of making sure it is a home field advantage for us.
Though it is located on the Portage Central campus, Portage Northern has played its home games at McCamley field since the school opened in 1965. Current Huskies head coach Pete Schermerhorn has coached, played and grown up at McCamley field.
"It is the 1st place that my parents ever took me as a kid, 1st high school game I ever saw, every 4th of July as far back as I can remember as a child my parents would take us to McCamley Field and we would watch the fireworks over there" Schermerhorn said. "I took my children to there 1st 4th of July show there so growing up in Portage it was a significant place for us and now obviously as a coach I have some terrific memories that will stay with me forever of games at McCamley Field."
This Friday they are sending McCamley out in style. There is a military fly over planned, fireworks after and a big game with traditional rival St. Joseph.
"Thousands and thousands of community members have come here every night either themselves or watching their kids or just to watch their neighbors or to watch their grand kids in some cases watch their great grand kids" Portage Central principal Eric Alburtus said. "That is why I'm so excited for this Friday's game we are hoping to find anyone that has had anything to do with this place ever to come back and get a chance to relive some of those memories and to celebrate what our community has given us for all these years."
The largest crowd on record at McCamley field is 11,000. School officials are hoping to surpass that mark Friday night.