Alma took home the trophy in the Battle of the Bone for the 6th year in a row in the first game of the 2016-17 football season. Alma defeated Van Buren 34-21 in the game played at Airedale Stadium on a Tuesday night.
Alma football coach Jason Reeves said the encouraging home atmosphere helped with the win.“The atmosphere always affects the kids because you play with emotion, and knowing there is going to be a lot of people there helps motivation throughout the week, and in practice.” says Reeves. “We want the stands to be two things, to be full and be loud.”
Many students leading up to that night posted encouraging words on social media. #6peat was trending around Alma. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites were alive with both student and parent encouragement, everyone was excited for the first home game.
In addition to the usual pre-game festivities, Alma High School’s honors, chambers, and advanced ninth grade choirs all performed The Star Spangled Banner under the direction of Mat Whitworth. It was the 12th year the choirs had come together to sing at a game.
Van Buren scored first, leaving some fans nervous about the game’s possible outcome. The scoreboard read 6-7 at the end of the first quarter, with Van Buren still in the lead. Reeves said, “When Van Buren was first in the lead I was scared; I thought our streak was over. We were not doing well both offensively and defensively. Towards the third quarter we picked ourselves back up and we took our trophy home.”
The Superintendent of Alma schools, David Woolly, spoke about the uniqueness of the game being played on a Tuesday. He said, “We usually expect about 3,000 people at the first home game. Maybe more when it’s the Battle of the Bone and that is usually on a Friday night. This year we hosted a football game for over 6,000 students, parents, and fans.”
Reeves said there are a couple of factors which make fans want to attend a Tuesday night game. “The past couple of years we have played during the Hooten’s classic, which we really enjoy,” Reeves mentioned. “Players improve the most between week one and week two, and by playing early in the week we have more time to prepare for the (conference) games of the season. Plus, we wanted to give people a chance to come out to the games who otherwise couldn’t on Friday nights.”
Alma did not defeat their second home opponent of the season, Springdale. The Airedales came up one point shy to lose that contest 26-27. The first road game of the season was played in Greenwood Friday. Alma lost that contest by a 34-14 margin.