Despite a steady drizzle, a solid crowd showed up to watch Father Judge host Springside Chestnut Hill in the season-opening football game for both squads on Aug. 24.
It marked the first varsity game Judge played at the James J. Ramp Athletic Complex, which is located across the street from the Northeast Philly school.
“We’re excited about playing most of our home games here,” senior quarterback Shane Dooley said. “I think it will attract more fans, especially students that want to stay around after school and then go to the game.”
Judge previously played its home games at Northeast’s Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium or Abraham Lincoln, its Rowland Avenue neighbor.
“Those fields are nice, obviously, but there’s something special about playing right at your school,” Dooley said.
Judge athletic director Jake Serfass said last week that the school was working on setting up more bleachers behind the visitors’ side of the field. There are no bleachers on the Crusaders’ side.
“It’s still early in the process, so we’re doing things to make things as fan-friendly as possible,” Serfass said.
Since Ramp Athletic Complex is owned by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Judge works in tandem with the organization to play its games at the site. The starting time of Friday contests is 6 p.m.
Judge is one of a number of Southeastern Pennsylvania squads that has recently opted to play “home” games at its school or other venue.
On Friday night, in its second game at its sparkling new turf field, Sun Valley outlasted West Chester East, 50-49, in a wild Ches-Mont League cross-division contest.
“It’s awesome for the kids, the school, the coaches, and the students,” Sun Valley coach Greg “Bubba” Bernhardt said. “Everybody loves it.”
Bishop McDevitt played its first home game in the school’s 60-year history on Sept. 8, taking on Chester in a nonleague matchup at the grass field behind the Wyncote school. The field was resodded a few years ago.
“We called the game ‘Fill the Hill,’” McDevitt coach and athletic director Mike Watkins said, referring to the steep hill adjacent to the field. “Our alumni and students loved it. I’d say we had about 1,000 spectators.”
McDevitt’s Andrew Metro, a senior center, thoroughly enjoyed what turned out be a 28-6 triumph for the Lancers.
“It was great to see that many people come out and support us,” the 5-foot-9, 240-pound captain said.
“The field was lined nicely, there was a painting of an ‘M’ with a spear going through it at midfield, and a temporary scoreboard,” Metro said. “It was my favorite game ever.”
Watkins said the plan is to have at least one home game each season at what has long served as a practice field.
The Lancers have switched to playing their other home games at Springfield (Montgomery County). They had previously used Cheltenham.
Another Catholic League member, La Salle, formerly used Plymouth Whitemarsh as its regular home site.
The Explorers hosted Imhotep Charter at Upper Dublin to open this season and will entertain Catholic Blue Division rival Archbishop Wood there on Oct. 19.
La Salle hosted Haverford School on Saturday night at Springfield, cruising to a 58-28 victory. It will use Plymouth Whitemarsh for its final regular-season home game, against Roman Catholic on Oct. 26.
“Our hope is to continue to play at all three venues — PW, Upper Dublin, and Springfield — in the future,” La Salle athletic director Joe Parisi said. “Each of them is pretty convenient for our fans, so that’s a positive.”
West Catholic uses two home sites: Widener University and, beginning last season, Drexel’s Maguire Field. St. Joseph’s Prep moved its home games from Plymouth Whitemarsh to Widener in 2016.