Recruiting Food Stops 2: Eating at The Stadium
Part of recruiting is taking in a high school game either on a Friday night or afternoon in the fall, or in the South on a Friday Night Jamboree at the end of Spring Practice. For a college coach that means a quick bite right before the game or a meal in the stadium.
Many of the in-stadium meals are cooked up and served by booster clubs or local church organizations looking to make some money.
At Warren G Harding High School (Warren, OH) in the late 1990s the ribs sold at the game were as legendary as the long line of football players that have come out of that high school. Everyone in town, when you mentioned you were going to see a game would ask “Have you had the ribs?”
When we were recruiting Deryck Toles, his grandmother Judy told me to be sure when I came to a game to be sure that I ate the ribs.
Just a few miles away in Youngstown some of the city high schools play home games in Youngstown State’s home field Stambaugh Stadium. While the venue is a good setting, the football is outstanding but the pepperoni rolls they sold were even better.
The unofficial history of the pepperoni roll is that it was created as an easy and handy meal for coal miners to take into the mines with them to eat when they got a lunch break. The pepperoni roll is a medium sized roll that has pepperoni sticks baked right into them. The creation dates back to the 1920s and spread from West Virginia to Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. While recruiting is in no way equivalent to the rigors of coal mining, this culinary tradition made a filling halftime meal.
Another stadium meal that stood out was at a Louisville Central high school game. After missing lunch and dinner to see the pre-game warm-ups, by halftime it was time to get a bite to eat. The man working the grill told me to be sure to get the hot sausage. With ketchup, some mustard and hot sauce it yielded a fantastic impromptu dinner that was juicy, spicy and kept my stomach from growling on the drive up to Indiana for our game the next day at IU.
Occasionally there are places not actually IN the stadium but right near a high school stadium. Some of the city schools in Pittsburgh play at what used to be called South Stadium on the Southside. The stadium is just off Carson Street which has plenty of eating places. After an afternoon game a plate of pierogi and an over-sized kielbasa sandwich at Fat Head’s hit the spot. In fact the portions were such that you’d better wear elastic waistband pants or loosen the belt one notch before you eat.
One last spot to mention is The Villa Capri Bulldog Lounge right across the street from the Berwick High School Stadium in Berwick, PA. I don’t know if it is still there, but years ago they had a giant chicken parm with spaghetti that even the heartiest coach would struggle to finish before watching a game. Back then the legendary Berwick Bulldogs were led by legendary Pennsylvania High School coach George Curry who was known to eat a few meals at the Bulldog Lounge.