The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Views From the Stands and the Sidelines

Senior Damien Thompson runs through coverage. Photo by Jeffery Guevara.

The Inside Perspective of TC Players and Fans on Football at the St. James

Katie Vastola and Moira Sirois

The football team is done with its regular season and heading into the playoffs. In the aftermath of renovations on Parker-Gray Stadium, T.C. became the first high school in Virginia to play its home games in an indoor stadium. But how do the players and fans feel about the St. James?

Braden Porterfield, a junior on the Varsity team, went to the St. James facility for the first time the day before the first game, which was against West Springfield. “It was definitely overwhelming at first,” he said.

“I loved it right away because of the success we had during the 7v7s,” said Kameron Scott, a senior safety on Varsity.

Many of Scott’s teammates feel similarly about the St. James. “I prefer the indoor stadium over the outdoor stadium,” said John Pencezar, a sophomore lineman on Varsity.

The biggest adjustment for him, as well as for the team, is traveling to the St. James. When games were played at Parker-Gray, the team was already right next to the field. At the St. James, Pencezar said, the team has “a small locker room. We have to bring our stuff, but it is not really too hard.”

Senior Alijah Alexander celebrates a win with the student section. Photo by Jeffery Guevara.

Another adjustment that the players had to make was to the echo in the stadium, which affects players when listening to the directions of the quarterback. The noise level at the St. James is also louder than an outdoor field, “but the hype squad plays a big part in that,” said Scott.

Players and fans are on opposite sides of the field, so the team is “close enough to interact with [the fans] but they are far enough from the field where they are not a distraction,” said Scott. 

“We do not want to be pressured by [the fans],” said Porterfield, “so we have an advantage [with the distance between us].”

The biggest benefit for many of the players is that the St. James is temperature-controlled, so “there are no issues with weather,” said Penzecar. This means that there is no concern about games getting cancelled or rained out.

Porterfield agreed that the St. James provides “a better environment,” both in weather and in fan turnout.

“We are making history,” said Porterfield, “we are leaving some sort of legacy behind.”

Playing in an indoor stadium is an aspect unique to T.C. Following its historic state championship win in 1971, which is depicted in Disney’s Remember the Titans, T.C. continues to pave the way for high school football in Virginia.

Junior Tre’Ante Rogers on the move. Photo courtesy of Football Boosters.

The only other adjustment the players had to make was to the pressure of winning after they lost the first game. “We could not let the fans down again,” said Scott.

Freshman, and fan, Thomas McLenahan had his first high school football experience at the St. James. “I really liked it, but it was small.” As a fan, he felt it was cramped due to the “limited availability of stands for everyone,” he said. 

McLenahan has never been to a game at the outdoor stadium but thinks that experience will be better than the St. James. “The outdoor [stadium] will be a lot more fun and can accommodate more people,” he said. 

Bea Savarie, a sophomore, preferred the indoor stadium because of the constant temperature along with the lack of weather issues. “My first experience was really good,” Savarie said.

Savarie had only one concern. “I do not think that there are enough stands for the students. It is always really cramped allowing for limited space,” said Savarie.

While the St. James is wildly different from last year’s outdoor stadium, both players and fans have adjusted to the switch and are enjoying the games this season.

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Views From the Stands and the Sidelines