Friday’s crowds that saw Trigg County beat Mayfield for the first time in school history and Hopkinsville beat Memphis Ridgeway were the largest in the bowl’s four game run, according to TCHS Athletic Director Taylor Sparks.
“I think after tonight the future is bright,” he said.
The bowl game is a major fund-raiser for the athletic program. Corporate sponsors help pay for appearance fees by the other three schools, while TCHS keeps proceeds from ticket sales and concessions. The money is split among the other sports programs, especially the non-income sports such as cross country and golf.
After playing on a Saturday night the first year, the doubleheader has since been played on Friday nights, which has usually pushed the start of the second game to past 9 p.m.
Despite the late finishes, usually around midnight in three of the four years, Sparks said there are no plans to change the times and dates of the bowl games.
“I think we found out the Saturday night game is not a high school football night,” he said. “Coach Higgins wanted to try that, but he’ll agree that we find that Friday nights are traditionally when families can go to the game since they spend more time together on Saturdays.”
The late finishes have prompted Trigg County to play the early game to accommodate their fans.
The Wildcats hosted Calloway County the first two years and have played Mayfield the last two years.
Hopkinsville and their large fan following has also played all four years, tangling with Male and Mr. Football Michael Bush for two years and Memphis Ridgeway the last two years.
“We’ve had several teams that have expressed an interest in getting back in the bowl or wanting to play for the first time,” Sparks said, without naming those schools specifically.
Despite the bad blood between Trigg County and Mayfield, Sparks said the Cardinals would be considered as a future participant in the bowl.
After lightning forced the postponement of last year’s opener with Mayfield leading 20-7 in the first half, the Cardinals refused to return to Cadiz the next day and play. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association ruled the game official, which meant a loss for the Wildcats both on the field and at the gate.
Although there was no wording concerning the issue in the game contract, the Trigg County School Board voted last year to give Mayfield a prorated amount of their $3,000 appearance fee – around $1,500.
Mayfield appealed that decision to the KHSAA, who last month voted almost unanimously to direct Trigg County to reimburse Mayfield the full amount that was promised them.
However, things appeared to have cooled down somewhat, with Sparks saying the Cardinals would be welcomed back in the future.
“With the way we played against Mayfield, getting the game in, and feelings not as bitter over the game this year, Mayfield remains possible for another two year swing,” he said. “We’re going to talk to Coach (Joe) Morris to get his thoughts in the next couple of weeks.”
TCHS Head Coach Curtis Higgins, who came up with the Integra Bowl concept in 2001, promised Wildcat fans two years ago that Mayfield would appear on Trigg County’s schedule as long as he was the Wildcat head coach.
“If I have anything to do with, they will continue to be on the schedule,” he said.
After making history by ending their 25-game winless streak to Mayfield last Friday, the Wildcats may want to turn their attention to Hopkinsville, who now owns the longest such streak.
Trigg County has never beaten Hopkinsville in 16 career tries, with the 1960 game ending in a 6-6 tie.
The two schools played every year between 1953-62 and renewed their series from 1974-79, which was the last time they played.
With the Wildcats fresh off one historical win, why not try and make it 2-for-2 in 2005?