The "Burial Grounds" is about to make its trip six feet under. Lake Central High School's historic football field made its final appearance on Friday night before it's torn down to make way for a new and improved underground field.
The field shows its age by wear and tear of the muddy grass, the outdated structure, small press box and low seated stands. It’s one of the very last of its kind. All of this was good for past Lake Central Indian teams and their fans, but it's time for the facelift.
Tony Bartolemeo, Athletic Director for Lake Central and former player for LCHS, said that the last game on the field is nostalgic for everyone involved but they're ready for the next chapter.
"It’s kind of a transition, something we have to get used to. It’s sad because it’s the end of an era but it’s exciting because it's the brand new beginning of another."
The old blended with the new for the goodbye as they paid their respects to the field. Homecoming brought out the current Lake Central students, and the end of an era brought back LCHS alumni - but the sentiment was the same. Mike Arzella, former quarterback for the Indians during the 1999 season (who was also celebrating his birthday), said that seeing the field once last time was important for him.
“It was vital for me to be here tonight to see one last game on this field," he said. "It’s sad that this will be gone soon because [the field] is one of the only fields left that goes east and west, but there’s so much to look forward to. Not all of it is sad - I’m excited too. My kids now play football so I’m hoping one day they’ll have the chance to play on the new field.”
Andy Kellas, a current senior at LCHS, is one of the future alumni that will walk in the same shoes as Arzella. Kellas said that because The Burial Grounds held a lot of weight as being a staple in St. John it’s a bittersweet moment for him and his class.
“It holds a lot of memories for us, and being on the field tonight for the last time really makes all of this bittersweet. It’s a symbol for Lake Central,” he said.
Kellas, like the rest of the people in the stands that night, welcomed the new field constructed behind them with wide open arms. “At the same time, though, the new field will be a lot better than what we have now. It’s going to give so much to all of the other students who are continuing on at LCHS. I’m definitely going to come back after I leave to see what it has in store for them,” Kellas said.
Lake Central’s football team sent the Burial Grounds off with an ideal ending by winning 6-0 over the rival Chesterton Trojans. After the Indians claimed victory, the alumni waved goodbye and the students stormed the field one last time. What really ended the night on a pitch perfect note was Lake Central’s students themselves by saying “Don’t frown because it’s over, smile because it happened.” And they did. They certainly did.