I’ve been in many sporting venues since jumping on the sports reporting scene during my years in college. Going to contests, I’ve seen many good facilities – some, not so much. But as I sat down and thought over this slow period of area sports during the Thanksgiving break, I had time to think about what the best high school football stadiums are that I’ve covered games in. As I sat there and thought about it, I realized that it’s really some top-notch stadiums out here that high school programs play in. Most of the time, it’s the winning ones. So, let’s dive into it. These rankings are in no particular order. These are just some places where the green grass, turf, or atmosphere drew me in as I watched some high school football from the sideline or the press box.
1. ‘The Bear Den’ – Burke County High School – Waynesboro, GA
This was my super early days with Bryan County News a couple months ago. I went to Burke County for their game as they hosted Richmond Hill. It was the second football game I covered for the paper. I remember riding to Waynesboro not really knowing what to expect. Once I got out car, I thought to myself, ‘Man, this place has a college football stadium vibe to it.’ It just looked very new. The turf and something about the double sectioned off bleachers with the blue seats to mark reserved spots caught my eye too. It made sense that it was renovated just in 2016. They’ve done a good job keeping that place up in Waynesboro.
2. Bazemore-Hyder Stadium – Valdosta High School – Valdosta, GA
I got real familiar with ‘The Baze’ during my time in Valdosta. But not necessarily on Friday nights. My alma mater Valdosta State (Go Blazers!) uses Valdosta High’s stadium for their home games. But let’s stick to high school. I covered my first Winnersville Classic in 2020 (which was broadcasted on ESPN) here between Valdosta and Lowndes High during my time covering sports for the Valdosta Daily Times. This turf stadium was jammed pack amidst the pandemic. South Georgia is crazy about football! With the Wildcats donning black and gold, my favorite feature of this stadium is the letter ‘V’ surrounded by the school’s logo on the bleachers.
3. Glynn County Football Stadium – Brunswick High School – Brunswick, GA
I know I am biased towards turf fields. But the Glynn County Football Stadium made the cut. The stadium is massive but it’s not the looks that wows you. It’s the light show that they have in there. I went and visited this stadium in October for Richmond Hill and Brunswick’s game. The way that whoever the light person is in that stadium gets that place going is crazy. When the Tigers ran out, the whole stadium blacked out. That was hard! Then whenever they scored, the LED stadium lights would act as if they’re glitching with them flashing after a touchdown. They also had a luxury box for alumni and donors elevated above the endzone. Also, they gave a nod to WWE by playing Undertaker’s theme song before third downs. I’m all for wrestling references across other sports.
4. Martin Stadium also known as the ‘Concrete Palace’ – Lowndes High School – Valdosta, GA
For those that don’t know, I served as the beat reporter for this team last year during the 2020 season. So, I saw A LOT of Lowndes football. I basically lived here on Friday nights at 8:00 during the fall. One thing about the Concrete Palace is that is rocks out and always stay packed out. As one of the top programs in the country, can you blame people that have no type of affiliation with the school for coming out to watch football? With turf, this stadium’s bleacher section is made of concrete (not the bleachers of course). Walking in, you see a tall Viking monument near the concession and apparel stands. You can even see this stadium from the highway when riding up I-75 North as if you’re coming from Jacksonville to Valdosta. That right there tells you the sheer size of the field alone.
5. Eagle Stadium – Milton High School – Milton, GA
While covering Lowndes, I went to Milton’s stadium during the second round of the playoffs. The color scheme of the perimeter of the field caught my eye. Milton’s colors are navy and red so soon as you step out of the white lines, the field is surrounded in navy blue with red hints. The way the bleachers were pushed back from the field because of the red track was also a cool element.
6. Mack Tharpe Stadium – Colquitt County High School – Moultrie, GA
This is undisputedly my favorite stadium that I visited a season ago while covering Lowndes. The stadium being right next to a graveyard was my first impression. But this stadium is well lit. Like it’s brighter than the usual stadium that I’ve been inside. But my favorite part about this field was the tones of the turf. Every ten-yard mark, the turf tone alternated from dark green to light green, complementing the black and gold logos on the field.
7. Memorial Stadium – All Savannah Schools – Savannah, GA
This is a nostalgia pick. I had to go back to my Savannah roots for this one. Of course, Grayson Stadium is the original football venue of the city but the only memories that I have there is Savannah Sand Gnat games. Memorial Stadium is where I built memories as I competed there in rec league football and once during my time playing varsity football at Bethesda Academy. I’m glad that Memorial Stadium got the much needed and deserved facelift with it being a staple to Savannah homers and former/current athletes of the city.