Grand Island High School alumni from the 1960s to the present took the field one last time at their alma mater Saturday.
Anyone who has ever played a ballgame on the grass at Masters Field was invited to take part in a ceremony at halftime during the last home football game Saturday. The district's ongoing capital project will include renovating the field behind the high school on Ransom Road. The new field is scheduled for completion in time for the 2014 football season.
GIHS Athletic Director Jon Roth was joined by the school's first athletic director, 93-year-old H. David Myers, who Roth called "The Father of Viking Athletics," and Mike Masters, son of the late Gene Masters, the first GI football coach. The 248 wins by Gene Masters are the most ever by a public high school football coach in Section VI. Myers hired Masters in 1963 from Brocton to start the football and baseball programs.
Roth said that he had received at least a dozen calls asking what the new field would be called and where it would be located.
"It's going to be Gene Masters Field, and it's going to be right here where we're standing," Roth said. "The difference come September, it's going to be a turf field, and it's going to have lights, and we're going to be here next September with Friday night lights."
At one point during the halftime ceremony, the sun broke through the gray sky like a play the late Gene Masters signaled in from the sideline.
Roth noted several highlights of 50 years of Vikings football, which has seen 19 championships, including five straight from 1989 to 1993:
•1964 - the first varsity schedule, with freshmen and sophomore players
•1966 - Gene Masters' first championship team
•The first undefeated team 1971 (7-0-1)
•36 first team All-Western New York players
Campus Construction Management and Cannon Design hosted a hospitality tent with food provided by McMahon's Restaurant.