Hughes Stadium is home to the high schools again with McClatchy and Christian Brothers returning to the Sacramento City College venue this fall.
The schools kick off a renewed era in the 84-year-old facility by facing each other tonight at 7. CBS and Jesuit square off for the annual Holy Bowl next Saturday in a rivalry game that is expected to draw up to 16,000 fans.
Tonight marks the first prep contest in the refurbished Hughes, including a new FieldTurf surface. The renovation cost $13 million.
Hughes was built to house the city football programs. It featured Metro League action throughout the 1980s with a Thursday, Friday and Saturday menu of games. The tradition stopped in the early 1990s when the Metro schools deemed it more cost-effective to play home games on campus.
But portable bleachers and bathroom units, small crowds and blistering hot Saturday afternoon contests often made for an apathetic atmosphere.
Malcolm Floyd can relate, and he can recall what it was like to play at Hughes. The McClatchy coach and former Lions Bee All-Metro wide receiver who played at Fresno State and briefly in the NFL once pulled in 70-yard touchdown strikes at Hughes, powering McClatchy to the 1989 Metro League championship.
"I am so happy our squad is able to play at Hughes," said Floyd, who went by Malcolm Seabron as a prep. "It was a treat when coach (Bob) Sandoval and coach (Brad) Klopp would lead us on the field at Hughes when I played.
"Friday nights were special, but football at McClatchy lost its allure when we played on our freshman field."
Floyd said he hopes Hughes will attract more numbers and pique more interest in his program. The Lions (0-1) have 28 varsity players, including senior Nick Modar, a three-year starting quarterback whom Floyd describes as "a great athlete and a great student."
CBS (2-0) has 48 players and has made big strides coming off a 1-9 season.
The Falcons are led by quarterback Caden Noon, wide receiver Jalen Walker and lineman Vinnie Johnson, a verbal commit to Iowa State.
"We're all very excited to play at Hughes, the new field, and people are talking about it," Walker said. "It'll be fun to play McClatchy, and then Jesuit. We know Hughes is special."
Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty break down high school football on the SureWest Sports Show each Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. on ESPN 1320 (linked later to ESPN1320.net).
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