Bible Stadium: The final chapter

Jeff Lowe

It was a warm night in Odessa, Texas. The Bronchos were celebrating what was an amazing 1946 high school football season. They had won their first ever state championship and were about to hang up the title banner in their new stadium. Barrett Stadium was a skyscraper among the plains of Odessa. It stood sixty feet above the ground holding 15,000 fans as they watched the opening of the game of the 1947 season. Byron Townsend, the great Broncho running back, would score the first rushing touchdown in the stadium; the first touchdown of what would be many memorable ones that would be scored within those bleachers for many years to come.

It was a cold night in Leander, Texas. The Cedar Park Timberwolves were holding on to a small lead against their bitter rivals, the Leander Lions. They were looking for their first playoff berth since 2006 and were less than ten minutes away from knocking off the Lions and completing a great late season rally. A.C. Bible Memorial Stadium was packed, as the fans watched what would end up being an outstanding final game. Dedrick McKnight, the great Timberwolf running back, would score the final touchdown in the stadium’s history; the final touchdown of many scored in the stadiums long, sixty-nine year history.

Sixty-one years. That is what separated the first and last touchdown ever scored within a stadium that saw three names, two cities and five teams call it home.

The night of November 7, 2008 was the night of the final game ever played inside the bleachers once known as Barrett Stadium, now known as A.C. Bible Memorial Stadium or Bible for short. The Cedar Park Timberwolves and Leander Lions sent Bible out with a bang. The game was an instant classic involving big time offense, big time hits and big time defense, with the Timberwolves coming out on top 26 to 10.

The stadium was originally built for the Odessa High School Bronchos as a gift for winning the 1946 Texas High School Football Championship. It was a stadium admired by everyone in the state and was hands down one of the best facilities in Texas. The Bronchos were the only ones to use the stadium until 1960, when a new high school was built that Barrett would call home.

The new team was one that would go down in Texas high school football history: the Odessa Permian Panthers. Yes, the same Permian from the movie “Friday Night Lights.” That team quickly became a powerhouse in football. Both teams won many state titles and had their banners hung up in the stadium.

Unfortunately for Barrett, it was becoming old and with all the usage it received housing two teams, Ector County ISD felt it was time for a change. The county decided to build a brand new, state of the art, 19,000 seat stadium. It would be called Ratliff Stadium and would eventually house the 1988 Permian Panthers, the same team from “Friday Night Lights.”

With Barrett Stadium disassembled and tucked away in storage, the fast growing district in Leander decided it was time to upgrade to a full-sized stadium so it could fit more fans. LISD decided to buy the parts to Barrett Stadium and build it on the Leander High School campus. From 1985 to 1997 Lion Stadium, as it was called back then, was home to the Leander Lions, the only high school in the district. Made of wood seats, the stadium was the second biggest in Central Texas and stood taller than any other stadium. The wood seats saw their end after an accident involving a Round Rock High School student falling through the bleachers. Immediately after the accident, all wood in the stadium was removed and replaced with the same aluminum which has supported the stadium since it was installed around 1998.

It was around that time in 1998 that the Leander Lions got word that their stadium would no longer be “their” stadium alone. In 1999, their first year of varsity, the Cedar Park Timberwolves called Lion’s Stadium home. By the time they played home games there, the stadium had under undergone many changes. The stands and scoreboard were redone to have a more neutral color scheme and the stadium was renamed A.C. Bible Memorial Stadium. They also bought Astroturf which they placed over the natural grass in 2000 so they could protect the playing surface from wearing out.

A little less than ten years later, Bible Stadium had become a staple of Cedar Park football. With the win against Leander on November 7, the Timberwolves finished their stint at Bible Stadium with a record of 36 wins and 21 losses.

There were many memorable moments for the Timberwolves at Bible Stadium. 2003 was a year that saw Cedar Park win their first 5A Homecoming game and first District 14-5A in the same night as the Timberwolves shocked Georgetown. In 2004, the year the Timberwolves made it to the fourth round of the playoffs, Cedar Park knocked off Leander for the first time in an overtime thriller, and claimed the District 14-4A title in the process. After starting 6-0 in 2006, Jamie Knight caught a last second pass from Travis Watson that he took all the way for a score to complete an amazing comeback against Pflugerville, a play that is still considered one of the best in Bible Stadium history. In that same season, Cedar Park squared off against familiar foe Harker Heights in an overtime bout that resulted in the Timberwolves winning their first round playoff game.

Now, in its’ final year, Cedar Park helped send off Bible Stadium with some classic moments. First was the first and last “Battle for Cedar Park” at Bible Stadium, as the Timberwolves rocked the Vista Ridge Rangers 38-21. Then, with two wins needed, the Timberwolves found a way to close the season not only with a domination of Westwood, but a physical pummeling of Leander in Bible Stadiums final game.

The lights may have shut out for one last time that cold November night, but the memories and magic of Cedar Park football at Bible Stadium will shine forever.