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By Carmen Ensinger
This Sunday, Oct 3, the Knights Junior Football League (JFL) will dedicate their football field at the White Hall Rez as the Roger Allen Memorial Field – Home of the Knights. Allen passed away five years ago, but he has left an indelible mark on the North Greene football program.
North Greene Knights Head Football Coach Chris Ford said Roger Allen was the man who first started the JFL football team way back in the 1980’s when he was just a young lad. In fact, he remembers being one of the first members of those early Knights.
“I started playing in the JFL in 1987 and that started me with my love of football and got me going into my high school football career,” Ford said. “I even ended up playing a year in college after I walked on for the University of Wyoming. But it was this program that got me hooked on football.”
According to Ford, Allen pretty much started and funded the program on his own.
“I remember us kids going down to the Tru-Value store where Roger would sign us up and get us fitted for the equipment we would need,” he said. “I think he paid for that equipment out of his own pocket and then held fundraisers to help pay for it later on.”
In the beginning, the Knights played their games on the high school football field, but five or six years ago, they began playing on the field out at the Rez. It should be noted that the North Greene Knights are in no way associated with the North Greene School District.
However, the North Greene School District has been very kind to them.
“When North Greene put up their new scoreboard and new lights, they donated their old scoreboard and lights to our program,” Ford said. “We are having a gun raffle for an Anderson AM-15 to help raise funds to help get those installed out there for next season.”
The lights will now allow the Knights to play night and late evening games like other teams who play on the high school football fields.
“Actually, we will be the only JFL team in our conference not affiliated with the school to have their own field with lights,” Ford said. “Because we are not affiliated with the school at all – we are our own separate organization and this will be the only field like this in our conference.”
Others have helped as well. Ford said Eric VanTuyle from VanTuyle Farms donated the light poles which were located at the ballfields across from Garner’s in Roodhouse and the City of White Hall has also stepped up and helped with some things.
For a program that is totally self-funded, the community has stepped up and backed the program remarkably well these past few years.
“We have our sign-up fee of $85 and other than that, we rely on fundraisers and our concession stand proceeds to pay for everything,” Ford said. “Doodlebugs does t-shirts for us and we have a guy who puts together fundraisers for us. This year the kids have been selling tumblers and we have made $3,500 off those tumblers. Plus, Doodlebugs said this was the biggest t-shirt order she has ever had from us. So the community has really stepped up when it comes to our program.”
All of those who have been backing the program, all of the former players, coaches, cheerleaders, commissioners, parents of players, anyone who has ever attended a JFL game is invited to Sunday’s dedication.
“We are basically just going to have a big old shin-dig out there for everyone,” Ford said. “Jeff Hazelwood will be out here cooking up some barbeque and other things for us and we will have both a lightweight and a heavyweight game for everyone to watch.”
The lightweight game will have the Knights taking on the Jacksonville Jr. Irish at 1 p.m. and the heavyweights will be playing the Calhoun Warriors following that game.
“The Jr. Irish didn’t have enough players to field a lightweight team this year,” Ford said. “So, we reached out to Calhoun and they were more than willing to come over and play us so we could have two games that day.”