AUSTINTOWN Falcons of Fitch High will fly through a tunnel this season

Better than a red carpet, Fitch High School football players will make grand entrances through a blue and red tunnel.
AUSTINTOWN -- Saunter onto the field? No way.
Falcons fly, and this year it will be through a brand new blue and red inflatable tunnel that allows football players to enter the field at the goal post.
Since the construction of a new athletic center two years ago, players have made anti-climactic entrances to the football field -- from the back door of the athletic center, through the fence, across the track and onto the field, said Nancie Bokesch, chairman of Falcon Gear for Football Parents.
The 35-foot tunnel, which is navy blue on the outside and red on the inside, will allow players to make grand entrances to the field, she said.
"The great thing about it is that we can, with permission from the other schools, take it to away games. It only takes a minute to inflate, a minute to deflate and it fits in a duffle bag."
Funding: The tunnel, similar to those used by National Football League teams, was paid for with premiums received from the Coca-Cola Co. for selling Coke products exclusively at all school-related events and in the school cafeteria. A few years ago, Coca-Cola premiums paid for a scoreboard.
The Fitch Falcons football team got a new coach a year ago, and Bokesch said that since then, "the mood and team spirit have really gone up."
A new logo, the tunnel and the slogan, "Play Like a Champion," will build on that enthusiasm, she said. "We're so confident that we even have a place to hang a championship banner on the tunnel."
Football players saw the tunnel for the first time Friday afternoon.
The tunnel may be used for other athletic events too, she said
"It might be too long for the basketball team to use because they play indoors, but the soccer and track teams could use it." Someone even suggested setting tables up inside it for special events, Bokesch added.
Season tickets for Fitch Falcons football home games go on sale Monday. The first home game, against the Chaney High School Cowboys, is Aug. 24, and will feature a pregame fireworks show.
Falcon Gear, a clothing line sponsored by the Fitch Football Parents Association, will be sold at the gates during every game. "Beat Chaney" T-shirts are on sale.

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