By MARINA WATERS
For a stretch of Washington County history, the annual Daniel Boone and David Crockett High School football rivalry took place under the lights at East Tennessee State University. At the Washington County Board of Education’s regularly scheduled Oct. 2 meeting, the possibility of returning the annual Musket Bowl football game to ETSU was considered.
“I just see it as an opportunity for two state-ranked teams to be able to play in a supreme, big unit,” said Todd Ganger, the BOE member who made the motion to move the game back to ETSU. “You’ve got to look beyond just this game. We’ve got kids at both schools that have the potential to play in college. They get to be a part of the locker rooms, they get to see everything. You’re giving them an opportunity they wouldn’t have had before.”
The motion to move this year’s Musket Bowl to ETSU failed in a 2-7 vote, with Ganger and Chad Fleenor voting in favor. Multiple board members they felt it was too close to this year’s Musket Bowl game to move the location, which is set to kick off at David Crockett High School’s Pioneer Field on Friday, Oct. 19.
For some board members, the idea of having the game at home for Crockett’s 13 senior players made them vote to keep the game in Jonesborough this year. Board member Annette Buchanan said she had heard that the seniors wanted to keep the game at Crockett this year rather than ETSU while McLain said he felt moving the game to ETSU would rob Crockett of their chance to play the game on their field.
“Your kids are (undefeated) at Crockett,” board member Phillip McLain said. “You’re taking away their hometown advantage. You’re taking away their home crowd advantage. If we ever do it, we need to do it two years in a row. Crockett’s there and then Boone’s there.”
The board also discussed the possibility of increasing the funds collected from the game should it be held at ETSU’s William B. Greene Jr. Stadium. The failed motion included $10 entrance fees with a presale opportunity for middle school and high school students who could get their tickets for $5.
Ganger said he felt hosting the game at ETSU could generate more funds for clubs like the football boosters and the band, that typically receive funds from concessions at football games. Buchanan added that ETSU has a group who runs concessions at the college stadium, so no booster or student club would run concessions at the facility.
“You’re going to make more money,” Ganger said. “You’ll be able to pay the concession stands, the band and the booster club. It will benefit (the clubs) in the long run because they won’t have to do concessions.”
Ganger added that for many previous players throughout both schools’ histories, who played at ETSU’s mini dome before the college closed its football program in 2003, playing at ETSU was a career highlight.
“You ask anybody who ever played football at Boone or Crockett in the past and they’re going to talk about the game that was played at the mini dome,” Ganger said. “That’s the game they talk about. That was the highlight of their career. These are 0-8 and 0-9 teams. They loved it. Now, this is going to be a high profile game.”
Fleenor added that he felt holding the game at the ETSU stadium could mean a lot to the current players at Boone and Crockett.
“A handful of these kids might get to go on and play college ball, maybe,” Fleenor said. “But the rest of them are going to enjoy going to (play) on a college field. That’s a big time deal. If we lived next door to Neyland Stadium and we got a chance to do this, would we not jerk their arm off (to play there)? I just think it’s a thing for the kids. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Though some board members said they could see the potential in hosting the game at ETSU, Hammond said he felt this should be considered in the future, but that the time was not now with the game quickly approaching.
“I’m not saying no. I’m saying not now,” board member David Hammond said. “I just think it should be taken on a case-by-case basis each year and let the home team for each Musket Bowl look at the situation on a year-by-year basis. I’m not saying let’s never do it. This is late planning for something as big as the Musket Bowl.”
The 48th annual Musket Bowl will be held on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at David Crockett High School’s Pioneer Field. Tickets are $6.