“Footballs soared through the air in the Stile Athletics Field House as the University of Akron football program conducted its annual Blue-Gold spring game. Nearby, dirt was lifted into the air as construction continued on InfoCision Stadium. The official groundbreaking for the football team’s new home was held Friday afternoon.””
Footballs soared through the air in the Stile Athletics Field House as the University of Akron football program conducted its annual Blue-Gold spring game. Nearby, dirt was lifted into the air as construction continued on InfoCision Stadium. The official groundbreaking for the football team’s new home was held Friday afternoon.
Fans came to campus to see the Zips conclude their spring workouts as they do every year, but Saturday their attention was split between the action on the field and the artistic renderings of the long-awaited stadium that were placed just inside the entrance to the practice facility.
The dedication ceremony and game provided an opportunity for alums of the football program to join together in celebration of one of the program’s greatest accomplishments. UA equipment manager Kevin O’Connor and a former student manager contacted past coaches in an attempt to invite as many members of the program as possible. Their efforts produced results as alums from several decades of the program’s history returned to campus.
For many, like Denny Blake, the reunion marked their first return trip in years. Blake, a Canton, Ohio, resident who played linebacker for the Zips in 1971 and ’72 after transferring from a junior college, hadn’t been to Stiles Field House before Saturday.
I was in awe, he said of his first impression of the facility, which opened in 2004. It’s truly an outstanding facility; it’s first-rate, that’s for sure.
Others, such as Kiki Gonzalez and Mark Groza, who completed their eligibility in 2006, joined the celebration at their old practice facility and reminisced about the upgrade in facilities the program underwent during their time as student athletes.
When you see Akron, it’s coming along, Gonzalez said. Since I’ve been here, there’s been nothing but positive change. I’m really excited to see what’s coming up here in the near future.
Groza expressed similar thoughts.
Things have changed so much around campus, and this (the stadium) is just another project to kind of make it a complete campus, he said. It’s going to be neat.
Jabari Arthur, the Zips’ leader in receptions in 2007, attended Friday’s groundbreaking and cheered on his former teammates in Saturday’s scrimmage.
While Arthur was able to take time out of his preparation for his upcoming professional football career – either in the Canadian Football League or the National Football League – for Friday’s ceremony, Blake was not there.
I couldn’t make it, Blake said. I had to work.
Blake’s response was a stark reminder that for the vast majority of UA’s football alumni, their time on the gridiron didn’t last long. That’s what makes groundbreaking ceremonies and glorified practices masked as games important. They give those whom the game has passed by a chance to rekindle friendships and share memories as they eagerly look forward to the start of a new chapter of a program in which they’re a part.
2008 Spring Game Notes
The Blue team defeated the Gold team 27-24. Senior running back Dennis Kennedy led the Blue team with two touchdowns and 117 yards on 16 carries. Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Rodgers completed 15-of-27 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown during his time leading the Gold team. Redshirt junior quarterback Chris Jacquemain completed 15-of-28 passes for 208 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for the Blue team. Redshirt junior Jeremy Bruce led all receivers with five catches for 96 yards. Senior Bryan Williams, who started at tailback for the Zips last season, has moved to defensive back and led all tacklers with five takedowns. The team also announced its offensive and defensive captains for the 2008 season. Tight end Merce Poindexter will lead the offense while linebacker Doug Williams will lead the defense.