Lockwood Stadium opened its gates on Friday night for the first time. Kind of.
No fans were allowed inside the brand new, state-of-the-art facility, but they still managed to get their eyes on the Lions as they hosted visiting East Helena for a junior varsity football game.
Cars lined the perimeter of the stadium's fence, as fans used tailgates as impromptu bleachers to catch some of the action. Radio play-by-play boomed from the speakers of some vehicles, but there wasn't the roar of the crowd behind the players after a momentum-swinging play.
"It's more tough on the kids, just because they are used to that. They feed off that fan energy and that noise, the excitement, so we've just got to do a good job as coaching staff to get them going and keep them up," Lockwood head coach Rob DiGiallonardo said.
"Everyone on the sideline for us and the coaches, the fact that everyone was in their cars on the side just helped us, I think," said Lockwood's Beau Contreraz.
Lockwood had its home opener spoiled by the Vigilantes, 32-8, as East Helena raced out to a 14-0 halftime lead behind a pair of rushing touchdowns by quarterback Brenden Howell. East Helena put the game to bed in the fourth quarter with a pair of long touchdown runs, but Lockwood wasn't going to leave its fresh turf without putting some points on the board.
Using a bit of trickery, Contreraz slipped around the edge and went untouched for a 20-yard touchdown, aided by the wide receiver driving his man to the goal line. The Lions tacked on the extra point to punctuate their final drive.
"Everyone did their job, got their blocks. That's the way I got the touchdown, is them getting their blocks. Good job to the line and everyone," Contreraz said.
Lockwood Stadium will be relatively empty for the time being, but there are big plans in its future.