Saturday, December 04, 1999

Town turns out for big game




BY RAY SCHAEFER
Enquirer Contributor

        LOUISVILLE — Much of Fort Mitchell appeared to be at Cardinal Stadium Friday to watch Beechwood win its eighth Class A state football title.

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Tigers fans spell their loyalty: John Kerns, Bert McAlonan, Bob Seiter, Brendan Kennedy, Brandon Schilling and Adam Barnes.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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        For the seventh time this decade, Cardinal Stadium was the Tigers' second home. Fully half the city's population of around 8,000 appeared to be in the old stadium to cheer for Beechwood, which knocked off Hancock County, 45-22.

        After every big play or touchdown, fans screamed and shook plastic milk bottles filled with coins.

        None of the 7,445 who saw the game was prouder than Marci List, whose son Ben ran for 105 yards and four touchdowns and threw for another 115. Mrs. List's bottle contained 27 pennies — 15 in honor of Ben's jersey number, and another 12 for older son Joey, a member of Beechwood's 1997 team.

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Marci List shouts encouragement to her son Ben.
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        “I'm proud of (Ben),” Mrs. List said. “He wanted this real bad. He and his buddies came to play.”

        Friday's win was equally important to students and residents because the Tigers lost to Middlesboro in the semifinals last year.

        “It completes our senior year,” said senior Jennifer Bruno, who wore a red tiger- striped suit as a member of the cheerleading squad. “It means a lot to the school, community and fans.”

        Randy Haake, a 1965 Beechwood graduate, called the Middlesboro loss “a hiccup.”

        “We feel we belong (in Louisville),” Mr. Haake said. “Not in a cocky way. This is (the team's) goal from day one in early spring.”

        Beginning with cancellation of classes Friday, several pregame traditions were renewed.

        Along Beechwood Road, the tree in front of the school and players' homes were festooned with white toilet paper and red crepe paper. Signs bearing the words “We Believe — Beechwood Football '99” lined the sidewalks and were spotted along southbound Interstate 71 on the way to Louisville.

        Cleaning up didn't seem to bother John Schappert, a school custodian who raked leaves and bits of paper un derneath the tree at school.

        “We tried to cut (the paper) off at head level,” Mr. Schappert said. “Once it rains, it gradually starts falling apart.”

        The show of support spread across the rest Fort Mitchell, too.

        Parents put signs in storefront windows. A house with “Go Tigers” in lights on the roof could be seen near the intersection of Dixie Highway and Sunnymeade Drive, and a house on Beechwood Road had “Santa, Bring Us a State Title” projected on one side.

        Once the game started, Mrs. List and Julie Yeagle, Beechwood coach Mike Yeagle's wife, were nervous. Mrs. List clutched both milk bottle and cigarette, while Mrs. Yeagle fretted over a Hancock County interception with 50 seconds left in the second quarter and Beechwood clinging to a 19-15 lead.

        Mrs. Yeagle said usually she did not get so nervous.

        “When it comes down to this point, yeah (I'm nervous),” she said. “I hope we can hold it together and come back strong the second half.”

        A 26-7 second half calmed everyone on the Beechwood side.

        “We only came down to Louisville for one reason — and that was to be state champion,” senior Lindsey McDermott said afterward.

        As the players pulled on their 1999 sweat shirts proclaiming the Tigers the team of the '90s, Coach Yeagle's father, Joe Yeagle, sat away from the crowd, something he's done after each of Mike's seven title wins.

        “That boy works for what he's got,” the elder Mr. Yeagle said.

        In the end, so did the Tigers.

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