On Friday, lights at high school stadiums all over Southwest Washington will illuminate, kicking off the first Friday night of high school football of the 2023 season.
Fans all over the region will flock to Doc Harris Stadium, McKenzie Stadium, Fishback Stadium and Kiggins Bowl that weekend.
But have you ever wondered who is Doc Harris? Or McKenzie? Or Fishback?
What are the stories behind the high school stadiums that serve as canvasses of high school memories for years? Some of the high school stadiums have histories that reach back more than 90 years.
Two stadiums — McKenzie Stadium and Longview Memorial Stadium — will be hosting their 50th season of high school football this fall.
With Longview Memorial receiving artificial turf this summer, the only area high school teams that still play football on natural grass are Castle Rock, La Center, Hockinson, the Washington School for the Deaf, Stevenson and Columbia-White Salmon.
Here is a glance at every high school stadium from Castle Rock to White Salmon and the history of those facilities.
Home of Evergreen, Mountain View, Heritage and Union high schools
2211 N.E. 138th Ave., Vancouver, just north of Evergreen High School
McKenzie Stadium was part of the third phase of construction of the new Evergreen High School, which started in 1969. Stadium construction did not get a green light until 1973. The original plans called for a covered grandstand. But when bids came in too high, the project was scaled back and didn’t include a roof, which would be added “at some undetermined later date, when funds are available.”
Evergreen played the first game in there Sept. 27, 1974. On Nov. 8, 1974, the stadium was officially dedicated as KW McKenzie Stadium. The namesake was Kenneth W. McKenzie, a local dairyman who was the chairman of the first school board when Evergreen school district was founded in 1945 and served on the board until his retirement in 1963.
The Mountain View Thunder started playing there in 1981.
The roof finally arrived in 1983 when a $1.4 million improvement project added 1,900 seats to the south grandstand. Portable bleachers on the north side of the stadium were replaced with a 1,200-seat covered grandstand, bringing the total capacity to 5,980 seats, more than doubling the original 2,880.
With Heritage set to open in the fall of 1999, the school district installed an AstroTurf field, making the facility the second in the area to have artificial turf.
Union became the fourth school to call McKenzie Stadium home in 2007. In 2008, Friday night football doubleheaders started.
In 2016, 2018 and 2019, McKenzie Stadium hosted a pair of state semifinal games.
Home of Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay and Skyview high schools
800 E. 40th St., Vancouver, just north of Discovery Middle School
Athletic fields at the base of a natural amphitheater in Leverich Park were built in 1933 and dedicated as Kiggins Bowl, named for mayor John Kiggins, who was instrumental in the construction in the park.
In 1936, construction began on a stadium around the field, which was completed in 1938. High school teams didn’t start playing football there until 1946 after the Vancouver school district paid for improvements that included a new roof and lights.
Vancouver High (later Fort Vancouver) has played home games there since. Hudson’s Bay has been playing there since 1956. The stadium underwent a big renovation in 1969.
When Skyview started playing there in 1997, Kiggins Bowl became the first high school stadium in Southwest Washington with an artificial turf field. The turf was replaced in 2011, when the field was dedicated as Gary Boggs Field for the teacher and coach at Fort Vancouver for 34 years. The turf was replaced again in 2021 and major renovations to the grandstand and the addition of a fieldhouse were completed in 2022.
Home of Washougal High School
1201 39th St., Washougal, west end of Washougal High School
Fishback Stadium was built in 1962. The stadium received its name in 1966 to honor John Fishback, who served as Washougal Schools superintendent for 20 years before dying of a heart attack in March 1966. The stadium was regularly packed when rival Camas came to play the Panthers, although many of those games were played in muddy field conditions.
In 2002, Fishback became Clark County’s fourth high school stadium to install artificial turf, which was replaced in 2013.
Home of Battle Ground and Prairie high schools
300 W. Main St., Battle Ground, north side of Battle Ground High School
Although Battle Ground has played on the field at District Stadium since 1954, the current grandstand was constructed in 1967 at a cost of $122,500 and had a capacity of 1,400.
Prairie called the stadium home starting in 1979. But the Falcons weren’t the first birds to inhabit District Stadium. In the early 1970s, an owl that Battle Ground students dubbed Oliver nested in the rafters of the grandstand. It is said that when the Battle Ground High band would begin to play, Oliver would be flushed out of his nest, fly over the visiting bench and deposit some droppings.
*The facility was officially named Battle Ground High School Stadium, or simply Battle Ground Stadium. But some people referred to it as “Tiger Stadium,” including a local radio announcer. This angered supporters at Prairie High School, who then lobbied to school board to change the stadium name. That was officially done in October 1984 when the name was changed to “District Stadium.”
After many mud-soaked Friday nights, District Stadium received artificial turf in 2006. It was replaced in 2018.
Longview Memorial Stadium
Home of R.A. Long and Mark Morris high schools
2903 Nichols Blvd., Longview, on the west side of R.A. Long High School campus
The south grandstand of the original R.A. Long Stadium was built in 1931. A smaller north grandstand was built five years later. Mark Morris joined R.A. Long on the home field in 1957.
By the late 1960s, the stadium was under threat of being condemned. A citizens committee convened in 1969 and recommended the construction of a 3,000-seat grandstand with artificial turf. But a levy meant to pay for the improvements was rejected by voters. Two more bond measures to pay for a scaled-back stadium (2,000-seat grandstand, no artificial turf) failed before winning approval in November 1973. The new stadium was built in 1974.
On Oct. 16, 1974, the school board voted to call the new stadium Longview Memorial Stadium. In 2016, the 70-year-old wooden north grandstand was condemned and torn down.
In April, Longview Public Schools began the Longview Memorial Stadium Improvement Project, which is a four-year plan to repair and upgrade the stadium, scoreboard and playing surface. It started with the installation of an artificial turf field, track surfaces and video scoreboard this summer. Over the next three years, the south grandstand will undergo repairs and upgrades, and new bleachers will be installed on the north side of the stadium.
Home of Ridgefield High School
2630 S. Hillhurst Road, southeast portion of Ridgefield High School campus
While the new Ridgefield High School opened on its current site on Hillhurst Road in 1971, construction of the campus was done in phases while the district worked to receive funding through a series of levy votes. Work on the football stadium finally began in 1975.
From 1971 to 1975, the Spudders continued to play home games at the field at the old campus.
“For the first time in four years, we don’t have to bus the players downtown for practice each afternoon,” Ridgefield principal Wayne Ball said in the summer of 1975. The Spudders played their first game in the stadium on Oct. 3, 1975.
The stadium got artificial turf in 2013.
Home of Kalama High School
548 China Garden Road, Kalama, on north end of Kalama High School campus
While the football field at Kalama High School has overlooked the town of Kalama since the school was built on “High School Hill” in 1926, the current manifestation of Chinook Stadium was built in 1995, replacing the small wooden grandstand.
In 2007, thanks to an anonymous donation, the stadium received a synthetic turf field, installed at a cost of $750,000. The field and track were resurfaced in 2022.
Home of Washington School for the Deaf
3000 block of E. Fifth St., Vancouver, just west of Martin Avenue
Built in 1972, the home field for the Washington School for the Deaf is located south of campus. It was named Deveraux Field in 1992 for Bob Deveraux, who served as the school’s football coach for 34 seasons from 1962-1998.
Deveraux stepped away from coaching in 1989 while he served as a principal of the school. The school named the stadium for Deveraux before he decided to return to coaching for the 1992 season. Thirty years later, the facility still has no lights, meaning the Terriers play their games in the afternoon.
Laulainen Stadium at Schroeder Field
Home of Kelso High School
1904 Allen St., Kelso, southeast part of Kelso High School campus
Kelso High School’s field was originally built in 1932, lights were added in 1936, and the grandstand was remodeled in 1942. It was in the 700 block of Vine Street, which is on the west side of Interstate 5. In 1952, the Kelso School Board voted to name the field for Emmett “Mutt” Schroeder, who served as Kelso football coach from 1934-1951.
On Sept. 13, 1977, the grandstand at Schroeder burned down in an early-morning fire. Plans were already in place to build a stadium at the new high school.
Schroeder Field, as it stands today, was built in 1979. After playing two seasons at Longview Memorial Stadium, Kelso played its first game at the new Schroeder Field on Sept. 7, 1979. In 2011, the Kelso School Board voted to rename the facility Laulainen Stadium at Schroeder Field to honor Ed Laulainen, who coached the Hilanders from 1971 to 1995 and led Kelso to the state title in 1983. The facility received an artificial turf field in 2018.
Home of Castle Rock High School
5180 Westside Highway, Castle Rock, east side of Castle Rock High School campus
Castle Rock Stadium has long been a place to be on Friday nights in the fall in Castle Rock. In 1963, the school had to bring extra bleachers from the Columbia Empire Fairgrounds to accommodate the large crowd expected for a battle of unbeatens between the Rockets and Washougal.
The 1,000-seat grandstand, which looks a little bit like a barn, was built in 1985 after voters passed a bond in 1984. The stadium was dedicated Oct. 4, 1985.
Stevenson Football Field
Home of Stevenson High School
390 N.W. Gropper Road, Stevenson, south end of Stevenson High School campus
The current stadium was rebuilt in 1987, replacing the grandstand that was built when the school was constructed in 1955. Construction of the new stadium was supposed to be done in time for the Bulldogs to play three home games in late October of the 1987 season. But delays only allowed Stevenson to play one home game that season.
“We’re installing a new scoreboard this summer,” Stevenson coach David Waymire said. “It’s the scoreboard that installed when the stadium was rebuilt way back in 1987.”
Hockinson High School Stadium
Home of Hockinson High School
16819 N.E. 159th St., Hockinson, south end of Hockinson High School campus
Hockinson High School Stadium opened in 2004 at Nautilus Field thanks to contributions the fitness equipment manufacturer made to the construction of the modest 600-seat uncovered grandstand on the field’s eastern sideline.
The name was changed by 2016 when the school district made an investment to construct a 1,400-seat covered grandstand on the western side of the field.
With improvements this summer at Longview Memorial Stadium, Hockinson is the only member of the Greater St. Helens League (4A, 3A or 2A) to play home games on a natural grass field. That is until late in the season, when the field gets so soggy that most postseason games are often played at Battle Ground’s District Stadium.
Doc Harris Stadium
Home of Camas High School
841 N.E. 22nd Ave., Camas, east of Helen Baller Elementary and Camas School District offices
The original Doc Harris Stadium was built in 1958, to go along with the new Camas High School, at the current site of Liberty Middle School. The Papermakers’ previous home field was where Liberty’s athletic field is currently.
At a dedication ceremony for the new stadium Oct. 17, 1958, seven members of the first Camas High football team of 1909 attended. The facility had no official name until July 1970 when the school board named it a local physician who served as team doctor for Camas football teams and provided free physicals to Camas High athletes for more than four decades. The school district officially named the facility Arthur K. Harris Stadium, but the stadium quickly became known as Doc Harris Stadium.
The stadium installed artificial turf in 2000. The stadium underwent a major renovation in 2010, increasing the seating capacity from 1,650 to more than 4,000 with both the home and visitor sides being covered with a roof. The stadium also included a statue of Harris.
La Center Community Stadium
Home of La Center High School
725 N.E. Highland Ave., La Center, southeast part of La Center High School campus
The first stadium for La Center High School was built in part with funds from the sale of lumber from trees cleared to create the field in 1969 on the site of the current La Center Elementary School.
When new La Center High School was built on its current location in 1993, the football team continued to play its games at the old campus, with its small bleachers and dim lighting.
“It was a great place to play, not if you wanted to get a great view or you wanted a lot of light on the field,” La Center coach John Lambert said. “We had a few punts disappear above the lights.”
Starting 2014, with community fundraising and volunteer-led construction campaign, the La Center Education Foundation began work on an on-campus athletic field and stadium. The Wildcats played their first game there that fall. The project has seen improvements over the years since, piece by piece. The grandstand roof was added in 2017. After the pandemic stalled the project, work has resumed. Still almost a decade after work started, the press box and storage rooms behind the grandstand remain in skeletal form, port-a-potties serve as bathrooms and a food truck as the concession stand.
John O’Rourke Field at Columbia River
Home of Columbia River High School
800 N.W. 99th St., Vancouver, east end of Columbia River High School campus
When Columbia River High School opened its doors in 1962, it was determined by the school district that River could not use Kiggins Bowl with Fort Vancouver and Hudson’s Bay already alternating Friday nights there. So it was decided that River would have its own on-campus football stadium.
However, grading the bank where the grandstand would be built did not take place until the summer of 1963. Further delays led River to play its first two varsity seasons (1963 and 1964) at Kiggins Bowl. A bid for a lighting system at the stadium was not accepted until August 1965, and Columbia River played its first on-campus game Oct. 8, 1965.
A stadium roof was added in 1968. The grass field was replaced with artificial turf in 2018.
Through the years, the facility was known as Chieftain Stadium until the school board voted to drop the mascot in 2020. In 2022, the grandstand was reconstructed. On Sept. 16, 2022, the new facility was rededicated as John O’Rourke Field at Columbia River, for the man who was River’s head football coach from 1994 to 2015 and passed away in November 2021 at age 76.
Seton Catholic Football Field
Home of Seton Catholic High School
9000 N.E. 64th Ave., Vancouver, south end of Seton Catholic High School campus
Seton Catholic played its first four varsity seasons with a vagabond existence, with most games at Doc Harris Stadium. In 2016, when the school moved into its new building in the Five Corners neighborhood of Vancouver, the football team combined with King’s Way Christian. But in 2017, the Cougars played on their on-campus field with artificial turf for the first time.Without lights, the Cougars played home games on Saturday afternoons.
On Oct. 14, 2017, the field was blessed by The Most Rev. Daniel Mueggenborg, an auxiliary bishop of the Seattle archdiocese, prior to the Cougars’ homecoming game. The field has seen modest bleachers that have steadily grown over the past six years. Lights were added in 2021, and a press box was added in 2022.
S.R. Preece Memorial Stadium
Home of King’s Way Christian
3606 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver, north end of King’s Way Christian High School campus
The field with artificial turf was constructed in 2012. For years, the facility had modest bleachers and the press box that stood on scaffolding. In 2019, the school constructed a covered grandstand with 1,000 seats. On Sept. 27, 2019, the facility was dedicated as S.R. Preece Memorial Stadium.
The school acknowledged “the Preece Family as being gracious and supportive of the mission and purpose of King’s Way Christian Schools.” Football games kick off at 6 p.m. out of respect for the school’s neighbors.
Home of Woodland High School
1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland, east end of Woodland High School campus
Woodland High School proved to be an anomaly for new-school construction. When the new Woodland High School was built in 2015, it came in under budget. And because of that, the football stadium was also ready to go when the school opened to students, unlike the construction at other area high schools.
The new Beaver Stadium has a covered grandstand that seats 1,600 — twice as many as Woodland’s previous stadium at the old school closer to downtown. And the school saved so much money during construction, the district opted to invest in an artificial turf field. But it came with a caveat: The school would need to raise money for the eventual replacement of the turf. Boosters sold bricks out front of the stadium with donor names.
Home of Columbia High School (White Salmon)
1455 N.W. Bruin Country Road, White Salmon, southeast portion of Columbia High School campus
When the old Columbia High School in the heart of White Salmon was replaced with a new campus northwest of the town in 1970, the nearby wooden grandstand at the former rodeo grounds/racetrack served as an ideal site for an athletic field.
While improvements were made throughout the years, the aging grandstand was completely rebuilt in 2002. The Bruins played their first home game there Sept. 27, 2002. The installation of artificial turf has been a topic of conversation for 30 years but gained steam in the past decade.
The decision eventually was made to dedicate resources instead to build a new community and student multipurpose center, which now resides next to the school’s baseball field.
Fort Vancouver High School Field
Home of Fort Vancouver
5700 E. 18th St., Vancouver, east portion of Fort Vancouver High School campus
A bond measure approved by voters in 2017 led to Vancouver Public Schools installing new turf fields at Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay, Columbia River and Skyview high schools.
While Fort’s home field is at Kiggins Bowl, the Trappers have scheduled at least one game on its on-campus field each season since 2019, trying to bolster a sense of community for the neighborhood with a more intimate setting. The field has lights, a scoreboard and a modest row of metal bleachers.
This season, the Trappers host Vashon Island in Week 1 on campus.