Covering High School Sports in America
Photo courtesy of Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News

The Rock Pile at Bishop McDevitt saw its last football game, as the school is moving to a new locale. What it lacked in elegance, it made up for with history.

Playing on the "Rock Pile" for 83 years was the best of times and the worst of times - depending on whether you were the home team or the visitor.

Officially known as McDevitt Field, the Rock Pile has been the ancient home for the Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) football team. However, it went the way of the dinosaur last Saturday when the final game of 2012 was played there. A brand new school is being built about five miles away and by next season the Crusaders will be playing on what Patriot-News sports writer Andy Shay calls a "cookie cutter" field - complete with artificial turf, a track and metal bleachers.

Now those "amenities" generally are accepted as routine at most high schools around the country. Not so at McDevitt, though. Just listen to what Shay wrote in the Patriot-News about the field with "rickety bleachers and a rock wall."

"She is ugly but beautiful, unique yet elegant ... When was the last time somebody spoke glowingly about the playing surface at McDevitt Field? It's the worst field for miles and has been for decades. Seriously, has the final 20 yards on the visitors' sideline near the pit ever been dry? And nobody cared. But for all her shortcomings as a functional modern-day football venue, they each played a role in enhancing the lure and tradition of this place and turned the Rock Pile into a House of Horrors for the opposition.

"A poor playing surface, outdated locker room and restroom facilities, no real sidelines, 10:30 a.m. starts on Saturday, no fade pattern available in the left corner of the scoreboard endzone because the pylon is six inches from the fence, barely visible lines and a clock that has a mind of its own."

Berwick coach George Curry, a former USA Today National Coach of the Year, played at the Rock Pile just once and called it  - seriously, according to Shay - "the greatest place for a high school football game in Pennsylvania."

After covering games at the Rock Pile for 20 years, Shay told MaxPreps, "The biggest home-field advantage was the 10:30 Saturday games. We always had breakfast at (the field). The reason was Notre Dame football (It is a Catholic school and many followers wanted to watch or listen to the University of Notre Dame games later in the day)."

The old wooden bleachers seated close to 5,000, but standing room sometimes enabled nearly 9,000 to fill the stadium. Shay noted that until the early 1990s, students were allowed to enter the school and watch the games by hanging out the windows. Who knows, but those may have been the best seats in the house.

Image for MaxPreps Video.