Get there early, enjoy the show

Highlands’ football stadium may not be the most comfortable place to watch a game, but few places can match David Cecil Memorial Stadium (pictured here) for atmosphere. Maybe it’s the tradition, with 16 state championships and 82 winning seasons in 93 years of football. Highlands is (or should be) one of the first five schools named on any list of the state’s very best football programs.

And if you want to be part of that atmosphere Friday when Lincoln County plays there in a Class 5A semifinal — and if you want a good seat — you’d better get there early. According to Highlands’ Web site, the stadium gates open at 6 p.m. and admission is $6. Here are directions to the school:

U.S. 27 north to Lexington, right on Man O’War Boulevard, right on Interstate 75 north to Erlanger, exit at Interstate 275 east (exit 185) to Highland Heights, exit left at Interstate 471 north (exit 74) to Newport, exit at Ky. 1120 (exit 4), right off ramp on Ky. 1120 east (Memorial Parkway) to Fort Thomas, school is 2 1/2 miles ahead on left.

If you use Mapquest or Google maps or some other online map site to find your bearings, the school’s address is 2400 Memorial Parkway, Fort Thomas, 41075. Parking is usually at a premium, and many fans park nearby on side streets, in church parking lots and the like. And it’s normal to see fans who live within half a mile or a mile walking from their homes to game.

All of the seating is on the stadium’s east side, behind the visitors’ bench. The listed seating capacity is 4,700, which seems a bit optimistic, and there is standing room in the corners and end zones. The school building is behind the home bench, and teams come charging out of doors and right onto the field.

Then there’s the cannon, which doesn’t seem to fit because the team isn’t called the Patriots or the Rebels or anything that might actually use a cannon. But it’s one of the best-known cannons out there (maybe because they get to fire it so often), and one of the loudest because the report echoes off the walls of the buildings surrounding the field.

Finally, you might hear some references to Fort Thomas as “Cake Town” and its football fans as “Cake Eaters” that seem hard to explain. The terms originated because of the custom of preparing a large cake after the football team’s state finals victories. The team’s fans and cheerleaders use them as a positive (see the second photo on this page), but they’re often used in a derogatory fashion by local rivals of the school in one of northern Kentucky’s more affluent suburbs. (Think Marie Antoinette.)

If you want to read more on Highlands, here’s a good Web site focusing on the Bluebirds’ history and records.

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