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Beaver Stadium Classic Another Chapter In ‘Family Atmosphere’ Between Penn State Football, State High

Cheers, whistles, and the sound of pads colliding usually bloom from the confines of Memorial Field on autumn Friday nights, drifting down past its towering floodlights onto Fraser Street and toward the hum of Beaver Avenue.

But this year, the ground remains dark at the start of the weekend. Passersby are more likely to hear the sharp percussive sounds of construction in the morning than the recognizable din of a football game.

Memorial Stadium is currently undergoing renovations, forcing the State College Little Lions to play their home games on the school’s less-iconic South Track Field. But they’ll end their already-memorable season at a more imposing venue — Beaver Stadium — thanks to a neighborly gesture from Penn State football. The Little Lions will take on Cumberland Valley in what has been dubbed the Beaver Stadium Classic October 26.

It’s hard to tell that State College — currently 6-0 with two home wins — is playing at their second-choice venue. But the temporary move brought with it a series of challenges for head coach Matt Lintal and his players, especially a senior class that isn’t spending its final Friday nights the way it always has.

“The preparation, preseason wise was the biggest struggle,” Lintal said of the change, noting that the South Track Field’s new lights were not installed and its lines not painted until the last minute. “Our kids have really just adapted and made that our home,” he said, adding that his squad has found success because of “team-oriented play.

“Our kids care about each other, they care about the team goals, and just being able to put the team in front of themselves.”

The Beaver Stadium game was organized primarily by conference officials and State College athletic director Chris Weakland in conjunction with Penn State athletics, according to Lintal. For the Little Lions and Penn State football, the Beaver Stadium classic is an extension of an already positive relationship between the two organizations.

He and Penn State football head coach James Franklin communicate frequently, and the Nittany Lions maintain their relationship through meaningful gestures, like inviting the team to watch them practice.

“They’re not only great neighbors, but it’s become more of a family atmosphere,” Lintal said.

Though he recognizes the significance of his team’s opportunity to play at Beaver Stadium and said that State College High “couldn’t be more thankful” for the opportunity, Lintal said that he hopes that other teams from the area and across Pennsylvania will get the same chance in the future.

“The opportunity for our kids to run out of that tunnel is extremely special,” he said. “I would hope that the Bellefontes and Bald Eagles and Penn Valleys of the world would get to run out of this tunnel as well.”

The Little Lions have several tough tests separating them from their meeting with Cumberland Valley, including a home game against Harrisburg (4-2) this Friday. But Lintal said he hopes that a notable crowd of Beaver Stadium’s “impactful” fans would take the chance to watch another local team play, and finish a trying regular season, on their field.

“The chance to be on that field is special,” he said. “I hope that everyone can come out and celebrate that experience with our kids and especially our kids on senior night who have given up a lot.”

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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