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Centennial 9/20/19

Updated: Sep 22, 2019



This week’s game took us to Centennial High School in Gresham. Centennial High is so named because it opened in 1959, Oregon’s centennial year. The Eagles are a 6A school competing in Special District 4, better known as the Mt. Hood Conference. They went 4-6 last year but were 2-7 the year before that, so they’re trending upward, which is difficult in a conference with powerhouse teams like Central Catholic and Clackamas. Tonight they would be hosting the Madison Senators of northeast Portland. (James Madison wasn’t a senator, which the name seems to imply. They’ve lost points on my scorecard before the game even starts.) Both teams were winless coming into this game so one of them would be getting their first victory. For anyone keeping track and trying to detect a method to our madness, you may want to note that, for the second week in a row, our home team has an Eagle mascot.

On a comfortably cool, intermittently sunny Friday afternoon when the metro traffic wasn’t anywhere near its worst, we (I) decided to take the scenic route. Now, Mrs. Ednold, I should tell you now, is a great adherent of the Virginia Reed school of travel: Stick to the main roads; stay on the well-beaten path; don’t take no cutoffs. My travel philosophy, on the other hand, may best be summed up as “I wonder where THAT road will take us?” With Mrs. Ednold’s comfort always in mind, when she’s in the car I usually try to stick to the widest, boldest lines on the map. And that was my intention this time but… Who could see an exit sign for Happy Valley and not want to take that exit? That name must be a bit of an encumbrance to those who live there. I enjoy my crabbiness once in a while and I wouldn’t want the reputation of the whole community resting on my ability to control my moodiness. But it seems to be a very nice place. A little too new and sterile feeling for my personal taste, but very nice. If you blindfolded me and dropped me in the middle of Happy Valley, took off the blindfold and asked me to give a name to the place in which I found myself, I might get the Valley part right, but I don’t know if happy would be the first adjective to pop into my head. Anyway, we kept on toward our destination and a few minutes later we found ourselves in the borough of – get this – Pleasant Valley. And if you tried your blindfold stunt again and dropped me there it’s just possible I’d be able to come up with the correct answer. Rural south-central Multnomah County is beautiful.


Eventually, with no more Valleys to go through, we got to where we were going. Almost. We ended up having to park in Portland and walk all the way to Gresham. Fortunately, that just meant walking across 174th Street. The Centennial School District straddles the boundary between the two cities but the grounds of Centennial High School are completely within Gresham. I don’t know whether the school was designed to fit into the little peninsula of Gresham that juts into the great sea of Portland, or if the boundary was somehow gerrymandered to ensure the football and baseball teams didn’t have to play their home games in a different city than the school sits in, but when you attend a Centennial game you’re surrounded on three sides by the sprawling metropolis. I could almost feel the Philistine big-city hoard outside the fences as I sat in the home side’s west grandstand watching the game.



Entrance to the stadium is from the west on 174th Street through a small gate. (Given the large size of the crowd, I suspect there must be more than one entrance to the stadium, but I was never able to locate another one.) A path leads from the gate and runs between the baseball and soccer fields to another gate inside which you’ll find the ticket table. The $6 entry for adults includes not a program but a “Media Guide”. (I have a feeling we aren’t in Yoncalla anymore.) Beyond the table is a large, paved expanse of what is usually a parking lot. On game evenings the lot is transformed into a temporary food court with several vendor trucks and tents set up to provide a variety of options for your pregame or midgame meal. Spicy pork quesadillas, anyone? Yeah. Skip McDonalds before the game. For more traditional stadium snacks there are concession stands (The Beak) on both sides of the field.



Beyond the Food Fair is the stadium itself. The playing field is natural grass surrounded by a rubber asphalt track. For the home fans, there is a very large concrete grandstand with wooden bleacher seating on the west side of the field. Beneath the stands are the restroom facilities and a large concession area. The east side of the field features the smaller concrete visitors’ stand, also with wooden bleacher seats, built into the side of a slope. A small concession stand is located in a shed located just north of the visitors’ seating. My one complaint with the seating is the support posts along the front holding up the stadium roof. They seem slender enough. But the ball seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time at about the 35 yard line, just where my view was obstructed by the post in front of me. A small complaint about an otherwise very comfortable situation.



The home (west) grandstand

Visitors' (east) seating

This night was homecoming night for Centennial. Which is a big deal. As the only traditional high school in the district, they command the allegiance of all of the elementary and middle school students in the area. Youth football and cheer teams from the district, all proudly sporting their red and blue Centennial uniforms, participate in the pregame homecoming parade through the neighborhoods surrounding the high school, creating a huge turnout of young students and families. As the Eagles made their entrance through a giant helmet/tunnel thing complete with artificial fog, the crowd overflowed the stands on all sides. Despite the throngs of people there was a sense of community that lended a small-town atmosphere to everything and made it easy to forget there were a million people or more in the surrounding miles. An impressive accomplishment. The past two weeks we have definitely seen two ends of the high school football spectrum and, as different as those experiences have been, they were both equally enjoyable.


Get your popcorn and coffee at The Beak. There's one on each side of the field.

We purposely chose our seats at a distance from the band and student sections. I can’t tell you if the band was technically good, but they had volume. Most of it seeming to come from the percussion section. And they played to what must certainly be a record number of cheerleaders: 29 if I counted correctly. And while most of the fans seemed somewhat inattentive to the action on the field they were very nice and welcoming to us non-locals. As a player, I had always assumed that everyone packed the stands to watch me and my teammates display our athletic abilities. I’m coming to realize that, for most people, it’s just a social event with some kind of sporting thing going on in the background. Which is totally fine. Just don’t let the players know that.

The halftime presentation of the homecoming court and the crowning of the king and queen left a bit to be desired but the fireworks display following it was impressive. Which is not a euphemism for the play on the field, though it could have been. There really was a halftime fireworks show, but the Centennial offense proved hard to stop throughout the game and scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 57-6 lead. So, for our second week in a row the clock ran continuously for the final ten minutes of the game, during which time the visitors were able to score again, making the final score 57-12. Madison is not without talent. They scored both of their touchdowns on beautiful long passes and more than one Eagle ballcarrier will be happy if they never encounter big #77 again. But overall they were consistently outran, outmanned, outcoached, or outhustled. Or all of the above. So, for the first time this season, our presence meant victory for the home team. You’re welcome, Centennial.


Game over, we trudged back to Portland and added our number to the hoard. And on the way home we just took Division Street to 205. We took the road more traveled by, and that didn’t really make much difference.

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3 Comments


Marcella L. Gentry
Marcella L. Gentry
Sep 22, 2019

Love your descriptions! So visual! Thanks for the commentary!

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gilromastew
gilromastew
Sep 22, 2019

Another great blog! I especially enjoy your take on the community, school, fans etc. Mom

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gilromastew
gilromastew
Sep 22, 2019

Another interesting adventure. Well written. Just wondering though.....does Mrs Ednold realize that you spend more time counting cheerleaders than watching the game? I suppose she already knew that, eh?

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