St. James hopes to capitalize on home-field advantage
For the St. James Academy football team, home-field advantage will be a new thing this season.
For Thunder coach John Muehlberger, it’ll simply be a throwback to the good old days.
After playing its home games at Bonner Springs High School in the past, St. James is adopting Mirocke Field as its new home territory.
The field, located at the St. Joseph Catholic Education Center in Shawnee, is where Muehlberger played during his high school days before St. Thomas Aquinas opened at its current location.
“I got some good vibes walking out there,” Muehlberger said with a grin. “It’s certainly kind of fun for me (going back there). None of these guys remember that field being used for high school football. We’ve still got a little bit of logistics to figure out, but I think it’s going to make for a great atmosphere. Everybody’s going to be packed in pretty tight; there’s not a ton of space for seating. It will be fun to bring Friday night football back to that place.”
The stadium lights at Mirocke Field will be on at 7 p.m. Friday for St. James’ season-opener against Christ Prep. The teams squared off in last year’s opener as well, and the Thunder rallied in the final minute for a 31-30 victory.
At the moment, Muehlberger is less worried about what Christ Prep will bring to the field and more concerned about how his own team develops. Many key contributors to last year’s 4-5 squad graduated.
There are holes to fill, but plenty of talent returns. The Thunder’s all-around leader and “heart and soul,” according to Muehlberger, is linebacker and running back Derek Feist. He is the ringleader of a defense that will be strong at linebacker and speedy in the secondary.
Offensively, the Thunder still are trying to jell. The line is a bit thin, and freshman Chris Gomez is battling for a starting job. Jim Getto returns as the starting quarterback, but Muehlberger said Jake Heller is battling for the job. Running back Avril Morrisette — who had a 207-yard game against Tonganoxie in 2008 — will be one of the playmakers, and receiver Dan Baird will be one of the top targets.