After more than 25 years of coevering IHSA Football from one end of the state to the other, I've had the pleasure of seeing and covering games in some of the best high school football stadiums.
Here is a list, in no specific order, of my five favorite on-campus prep football meccas in the Land of Lincoln.
Roscoe Eades Stadium, Sterling High School: Sterling is home to one of the state's top Class 5A football programs. It is also home to one of the best looking, recently renovated high school football stadiums around. With the Jumbotron, the new turf field, the ample seating, and the neighborhood setting… Roscoe Eades has the feel and look of a college stadium.
Rocky Stadium Public School Stadium, Rock Island High School: Known to many as Rocky Stadium, this 91-years-young jewel undoubtedly takes you back several decades from the moment you walk through the gates. While much of the structure remains intact from its original 1929 design, Rock Island has maintained this facility incredibly well and is in the process of a 1.3 million dollar renovation, which includes new field turf and a new track. Rocky Stadium is also one of the few high school stadiums with seating that circles around the entire field and end zones.
Lane Stadium, Lane Tech High School: This landmark on Chicago’s Northwest Side was on hard times. On a major decline, it was in its peril as the school looked at condemning the structure. It forced Lane Tech’s 2006 graduation ceremony to be moved to UIC. A major renovation came in 2015 and revived one of the great old inner-city stadiums. Several movies and TV shows have been filmed at the historic stadium, and the old-school feel of the bleachers and surrounding brick buildings merge with a great new field and track. Recent upgrades to old time CPL stadiums in Winnemac and Eckersall are also impressive.
Duchon Field, Glenbard West High School: Sure, not much has been added recently from an upgrade standpoint. And yes, the grass field floods way too much. Also, you won't experience any Friday night lights here because Duchon Field has no lights. But playing on a Saturday afternoon in the late fall on the shores of Lake Ellyn with its picturesque background and old-school setting is just too hard to leave off this list. Duchon Field, I just can't ignore you.
Howard Fellows Stadium, LaSalle-Peru High School: Built in a ravine in the mid-1930s, this landmark has another old-school feel. It is simply one of the most unique settings in the state, with the home bleachers rising up in sort of a pyramid style toward the press box. Renovations in the late ‘90s, as well as an ongoing play to add field turf, just add to the strong appeal of this gem.
Barda Dowling Stadium, Chicago - Mount Carmel High School: Just a year old, this on-campus stadium of the defending 2019 Class 7A state champions plays like a stadium built decades ago. While the seating capacity isn't overwhelming, the stands allow plenty of room, and it feels like the fans are right on top of you. Throw in the modern additions of a digital lighting system, terrific sound and a great entryway into the stadium, and this new/old school stadium is a major winner. I'll give the top five one more year in the spotlight, but Barda Dowling Stadium will be sending one of them home very soon.