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The opening of Hentges Stadium will indeed be 'unique, special'

The Helias Crusaders will host Hannibal on Friday night in the first game at Ray Hentges Stadium. (Rod Smith/KRCG13)

JEFFERSON CITY --- It's not often an inanimate object is the lead to the story.

Which is not to say it has to be human ... as in, the Rally Cat, who's the distant cousin of the Rally Squirrel.

Cardinals and squirrels and cats, oh my.

But now, it's time for all this concrete and these bleachers and this turf to come to life. It's time for Jefferson City's beautiful 17-acre baby to say hello to the world --- and she promises to be welcomed with open arms and thousands of smiles for decades to come.

Say hello to Ray Hentges Stadium, the home of the Helias Crusaders.

"The opening week of any football season is special," Helias coach Tim Rulo said, "just because there's been so much preparation and hard work during the offseason. But this week ..."

Rulo paused ... then continued.

"This week is definitely a very unique and special situation. For all of us, getting the opportunity to open up a new stadium --- especially one as beautiful as Helias has put together --- it's an amazing honor. Literally, you have 60 years of football tradition; they've been waiting a long time for this opportunity.

"I was talking to the players (Monday) afternoon and it's hard to understand the magnitude of it. They'll be telling their grandkids that they were the first players to play a game on that field. We get to be a part of this new, old thing."

This is much more than a stadium, it's much more than a sports complex, a facility that also includes includes a soccer field and tennis courts.

This is a dream come true.

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