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Central Catholic's 'road warriors' settle in at Highmark

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Members of the Central Catholic High School football team practice at Highmark Stadium Thursday, September 19, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Members of the Central Catholic High School football team pracrtice at Highmark Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Members of the Central Catholic High School football team practice at Highmark Stadium Thursday, September 19, 2013 as seen through a second floor window.

Befitting its Viking mascot, Central Catholic has traveled great distances in search of a football home.

That journey might end.

“We may finally be able to dock our ships,” Central Catholic athletic director Chuck Crummie said.

The No. 1-ranked football team in Class AAAA will make Highmark Stadium its home for Friday night's matchup against Fox Chapel, the first of three games scheduled this season at the South Side soccer venue.

Should all go as planned, the Vikings might stay at the stadium for years, but that's not yet certain.

The Vikings practiced at Highmark Stadium on Thursday afternoon, the team's first on the artificial turf. Built along the Monongahela River near Station Square, the stadium allows an up-close look at the city.

With that location, Crummie believes this week's game could draw several thousand to the 4,000-seat stadium. For matchups with Seneca Valley (Sept. 27) and North Allegheny (Oct. 11), he hopes for even more.

“There's a lot of anticipation and excitement,” Crummie said, “and there's a little trepidation having not done it yet. We're just hoping everything goes well. Obviously, the ambiance and the view are a bonus.”

Central tentatively scheduled games there last season, but construction was not completed in time.

Tickets at the gate are $6. Parking also costs $6.

“We're very excited and grateful,” coach Terry Totten said. “We hope to be a good tenant, and hopefully it's mutually beneficial.”

Without its own stadium, the Vikings have borrowed others for decades. In the past 10 years, they've used seven different venues.

Most often they occupied Carnegie Mellon's stadium near Central Catholic's campus in Oakland. The Vikings will host Butler there Oct. 25.

But in the past decade, they also have used the stadiums of Fox Chapel, West Mifflin, Mt. Lebanon, Gateway, Woodland Hills and Duquesne University.

The team's road warriors reputation has been worn proudly, but if Central Catholic could easily build its own stadium, it would.

There's a turf practice field at the school but little room for bleachers. Talk of building elsewhere never took root.

“Until they learn how to build a field that would levitate in space, there's no place on our campus,” Crummie said. “We just don't have the land. There's been talk about building one here or there, but I think it has only been talk.”

No arrangement has been reached to keep Central Catholic at Highmark beyond these three games, but Crummie believes both sides will be interested.

If anything, rental cost might be the only issue.

“It's more than what we are used to paying,” Crummie said. “That's the part we have to see how it works out. Hopefully, we'll have more people at our games and everything will work itself out.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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