KENOVA - Schedules of Tri-State Youth Football League and area middle school teams will feature a phrase not seen in many years - "at Ceredo-Kenova."
The C-K community dedicated their new bleachers and the opening of the old C-K High School field, known as Ward-Craycraft Stadium, Tuesday in a joyful ceremony that featured stars from the towns' present, past and future.
"Most people think it's just a field, but it's not," said Jesse McChristian, president of the C-K Youth Football League. "It's part of the community."
Much of the green-clad community attended the ceremony, complete with fire trucks, an over-sized American flag and 14 motorcycles. People filled the stands and spilled into the parking areas, along the fence surrounding the field and even onto the field, where legendary Wonders coach Carl Ward stood in a corner near the Route 60 end zone. The facility is named for Ward and longtime assistant the late Dale Craycraft.
"I'm really surprised," Ward said, looking at the crowd as announcements were made from the Jack Hardin Press Box. "I'd like to be coaching here again, now."
Ward led C-K to a state record 10 state championships. With him Tuesday were former assistant coaches Don Money and Barry Scragg, among others.
"This is really great," Money said. "The bleachers are full. The youth program has its home football field back. This is really nice."
Modular classrooms had sat on the field for seven years. During that time the old bleachers deteriorated and were torn down. C-K teams played at Spring Valley High School or Vinson Middle School in the meantime. At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, though, the middle school Wonders will take the field at home against South Point for a scrimmage. At 10 a.m. Saturday, C-K's youth league teams will open their regular season with a game against Buffalo-Wayne.
The cost of refurbishing the field was about $650,000, some of which came from grants and the rest from vigorous fund-raising efforts. Wayne County Schools superintendent Todd Alexander said a few tasks, such as running electricity to the scoreboard and press box, need completed, but that the progress was remarkable. The next goal is to add lights to the field, then work on the baseball field, according to Deidre Farley, principal at C-K Elementary. All of that was for another day, however, as more than 1,000 people enjoyed the celebration of Meet the Wonders night. Football players, cheerleaders, majorette, soccer players and other were introduced to the adoring crowd.
Brian Davis, principal at C-K Middle, said he had never seen anything like Tuesday's celebration in his 20 years in the community.
Scragg swapped memories with several people, including C-K youth football coach Jimmy Parker, who played against the Wonders on that very field when he played for Mount Hope High School. Parker went on to play at Marshall University.
"When I was in school, Fayetteville was our big rival and I always said I'd never be part of a school that wore green," Parker said, with a laugh. "What did I do? Played at Marshall and coach at C-K. My wife is from C-K and my kids go here. It's an honor to be a part of this."
The C-K Alumni Band played at the event. Longtime member Billy Cornwell was overjoyed at the festivities.
"It's like an old Friday night watching the Wonders play," Cornwell said.