Several associates of the Vero Beach Aerial Academy Class of 1978 who accept children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren locally, allocution about how growing up has afflicted about Indian River County. Wochit
Large home crowds accept been the aphorism about from the day the Citrus Bowl replaced the old Hibiscus Bowl in 1967.(Photo: FILE PHOTO)
Gary Parris still remembers the aboriginal time he stepped assimilate the aboriginal Citrus Bowl acreage afore the alpha of his inferior division with Vero Beach Aerial School’s football aggregation in 1967.
“It was a beautiful, admirable place,” Parris recalled. “Everyone abroad had lath bleachers and we had this big accurate stadium.”
A $90,000 advance beforehand that year adapted the bland, 18-year-old Hibiscus Bowl into a 7,000-seat jewel with a candied name in the Citrus Bowl.
Over the years, the admirable amphitheater has become a home acreage advantage like no added on the Treasure Coast.
Aside from Celebrated Dodgertown, the bounce training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 to 2008, no added ability in boondocks is as well-known.
Maybe it’s because of the 267 wins on home soil — including a Class 4A accompaniment championship in 1981 — over the accomplished 52 seasons, the artefact of a affluent aptitude abject and committed coaches.
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Or it could be the bags of admirers who backpack the abode for every home game. Alpha with the 7,000 on duke for the Citrus Bowl’s debut in 1967 or the 10,000 who filled the stands and belted the end zones for a commune championship showdown with No. 1-ranked Merritt Island in 1986.
Or it aloof ability be its adamantine ties to a community that loves Friday night football.
Back in ’67, the Indian Chiefs booster club apprenticed to advertise 587 of 768 aloof seats — amid in 24 rows amid the two 40-yard curve — as 10-year division tickets at $100 apiece. Their accomplishment accounted for about two-thirds of the $90,000 amount tag.
Darrell and Carol Fennell were two of the aboriginal division admission holders.
Fourteen years later, their son Todd was the starting quarterback on the 1981 accompaniment championship team.
“I was activity there aback I was arena midget football,” recalled Todd Fennell, now a Vero Beach attorney. “I was in the stands on Friday nights watching the earlier players, some of whom I still know, and absent how anytime I ability be on that team.”
By the 1980s, the Citrus Bowl became known as Home of the 12th Man, the words already spelled out on the old accurate facade.
“I feel on Friday nights I was advantageous abundant to be the Administrator of the Entertainment Committee,” allegorical Vero Beach drillmaster Billy Livings said afterwards catastrophe a 26-year, 211-win run as drillmaster in April 2006.
Wildly absorbing for the home folks, but annihilation but fun for best opponents.
Vero Beach has won about 76 percent of its home amateur aback 1967, including 70-16 against 10 Treasure Coast opponents.
Renovations in 2016 and 2017 gave the now 52-year-old Citrus Bowl a beginning look, but Vero Beach’s home attitude of success charcoal the same. (Photo: DENNIS JACOB/TCPALM)
That doesn’t stop teams a and far from accepting Citrus Bowl amateur for an important reason, according to above Vero Beach able-bodied administrator Tim Tharp.
“As an opponent, we consistently admired advancing up to Vero and playing,” Tharp, a above arch drillmaster at Palm Beach Gardens and accepted drillmaster at Jupiter, recalled in 2011. “We looked at it as a playoff environment. We capital our kids to be apparent to that.”
Bathed in red and white, the Citrus Bowl got a middle-age makeover afterwards the accurate stands were bankrupt backward in the 2015 division because of structural concerns.
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The $7.3 actor annual of upgrades, completed in 2017, included new aluminum bleachers to alter the old accurate stands, new sidewalks, upgraded restrooms, new locker apartment and alike an elevator to the columnist box.
The bendable Bermuda grass and acceptable attitude remained unchanged. The Indians are 57-3 at home in Lenny Jankowski’s eight seasons as coach, including 42 after regular-season home wins.
A lot added memorable than his one d as a amateur at the Citrus Bowl with Fort Pierce Central in the 1980s.
“As I bethink it, actual intimidating,” said Jankowski, who played at John Carroll Catholic as a chief in 1988. “The 12th Man has been about for a while. I’m absolutely animated I’m on this ancillary of the fence now.”
Counting the Hibiscus Bowl days, Vero Beach has played on the aforementioned application of acreage on 16th Street beyond from the campus for 70 years.
Historic stuff, no doubt, but history consistently is on affectation at the Citrus Bowl.
The acreage was called in Livings’ annual in 2000.
Bill Wilson Clue ceremoniousness the drillmaster who guided the Indians to two boys clue and acreage accompaniment titles. He additionally was an abettor drillmaster on the 1981 accompaniment championship football team.
A 36-foot video lath was added to the Citrus Bowl game-day acquaintance in 2014. The scoreboard additionally includes references to the 10 accompaniment championship d wins by the school’s girls lacrosse team. (Photo: DENNIS JACOB/TCPALM)
The game-day acquaintance got a aerial tech accession in 2014 with the accession of a video lath barometer 36 anxiety advanced and 10 anxiety high.
The aftereffect is a can’t-miss atmosphere.
“It’s appealing surreal cerebration about how abundant attitude is at this academy and this stadium,” accepted Vero Beach quarterback Nick Celidonio said.
Few accept witnessed as abounding watershed moments at the Citrus Bowl than Parris.
Old No. 84 was a four-sport amateur who becoming 15 varsity belletrist and went on to play tight end at Florida Accompaniment and, later, the NFL for eight seasons. He has spent the accomplished 38 years as a radio analyst on Vero Beach games.
He additionally denticulate the aboriginal touchdown in Citrus Bowl history, carriage in a 13-yard canyon from quarterback Mark Baker 4 1/2 annual into the 1967 home opener, a 13-12 accident to arresting accompaniment best Melbourne.
Gary Parris (84) denticulate the aboriginal touchdown in Citrus Bowl history with a 13-yard accession from Mark Baker adjoin Melbourne on Sept. 13, 1967. Teammates Tom Kauffman (80), Robert Brothers (61) and Howard Avril (74) celebrate. (Photo: BOB PALMER/VERO BEACH PRESS JOURNAL)
Vero Beach’s Gary Parris, apparent in this 2015 book photo, said he has continued dreamed of a d amid Sebastian River and Vero Beach breadth both teams were undefeated. (Photo: J. PATRICK RICE/SPECIAL TO TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)
“When I attending aback now, I didn’t apprehend that was the aboriginal in the Citrus Bowl,” Parris said. “You aloof don’t anticipate about it as a player. Now it agency added to me than it did at the time. Aback then, I was aloof aggravating to advice our aggregation win.”
True traditions angle the analysis of time.
Nearly 2,000 division tickets were awash for this division according to Jankowski, additionally the school’s able-bodied director.
Thousands of admirers still accommodate a beating for every home game, the top-shelf bandage still plays to babble reviews and the aggregation keeps acceptable big.
Not surprisingly, this year’s roster includes several players with ties to antecedent teams.
“The crowds are consistently live,” said Vero Beach receiver Keith Woulard, whose ancestor J.K. played active aback for the Fighting Indians in the 1990s. “I aloof adulation the atmosphere.”
Vero Beach is on clue to acquire the No. 1 berry for the Class 8A playoffs, acceptation the Indians would accept home acreage advantage through the accompaniment semifinals.
No amount how far they go, apprehend the accepted mix of longtime fans, newcomers, even a accumulation of 20 to 30 retirees anatomy Indian River Estates who accomplish the 5 1/2-mile cruise by bus.
And, no doubt, added than a few above players who still admire aggregate red and white on affectation at the Citrus Bowl.
“It’s absolutely allotment of the t of the community,” Fennell said. “It’s unique. That Friday night lights with the admirers and the band, there’s absolutely annihilation like it.”
Before it was adapted in 2016 and 2017, the Citrus Bowl included a annual of every commune appellation and playoff appearnace by Vero Beach. The stars acclaimed commune titles, the acme acclaimed the 1981 Class 4A accompaniment title. (Photo: DENNIS JACOB/TCPALM)
Opened: 1967. Replaced the 18-year-old Hibiscus Bowl, which opened in 1949 on the aforementioned site.
Seating: The accurate stands added 3,588 seats, according to accounts in the Columnist Journal. Lath bleachers from the Hibiscus Bowl, which built-in about 3,000, were confused to the arctic ancillary of the acreage and afterwards replaced by aluminum benches.
Winning bid: $86,804 by William Hensick & Sons, accepted contractors in Vero Beach.
How it was funded: The Indian Chiefs booster club apprenticed to advertise 587 of 768 aloof seats — amid in 24 rows amid the two 40-yard curve — as 10-year division tickets at $100 apiece. Their accomplishment accounted for about $60,000. The academy kicked in $5,000 from an centralized annual and the Indian River County Academy Lath covered the rest.
The name: The Citrus Bowl accustomed the accent of citrus in the Indian River area.
First game: Lost to arresting accompaniment best Melbourne 13-12 afore about 7,000 on Sept. 22, 1967.
Prophetic words: “I anticipate the citizens of this association will acknowledge this new amphitheater aback they see it,” Academy Lath administrator Dan Richardson told the Columnist Journal in 1967.
Home record: 267-84-2 aback 1967, including 28-11 in home playoff games. The Indians accept accomplished .500 or bigger at home in 46 of 52 seasons at the Citrus Bowl.
Bet you didn’t know: The Hibiscus Bowl, called by then-Press Journal editor Harry J. Schultz, amount $35,000 to build. Vero Beach ahead had played home amateur at Michael Field.
1972: Vero Beach 15, Fort Pierce Central 14
Why it matters: The Fighting Indians became the aboriginal and alone breadth aggregation to duke Cobras drillmaster Calvin Triplett a accident during his four seasons in Fort Pierce.
1981: Vero Beach, Mosley 7
Why it matters: The Little Rascals, as the Fighting Indians were affectionately known, won the Class 4A accompaniment championship afore 7,632 fans. Linebacker Bobby Twomey’s lix recvoer at the Vero Beach 25 with beneath than 40 abnormal to comedy closed the win.
1986: Vero Beach 13, Merritt Island 10 (OT)
Why it matters: The Fighting Indians agitated the No. 1-ranked Mustangs to win the Commune 6-5A championship. With an overflow army of 10,000 rining the end zones, Jon-David Desson threw an 11-yard touchdown canyon to G.T. Parris to win it.
1998: Vero Beach 31, Columbia (Lake City) 26
Why it matters: Vero Beach accomplished the accompaniment semifinals for an area-record seventh time. Andy Wilson threw three touchdown passes, Chauncey Stovall had 278 advantageous yards, Rob Campbell kicked a 53-yard acreage ambition and the aegis fabricated two stands in the final six minutes.
2006: Vero Beach 45, Palm Beach Lakes 42 (4 OT)
Why it matters: The Fighting Indians overcame a 28-7 arrears to assure a playoff anchorage in Gary Coggin’s aboriginal year as arch coach. Max Feurer kicked a 28-yard acreage ambition in the fourth overtime and Patmon Ross recovered a Palm Beach Lakes lix to end it. Vero Beach had been 0-93 best in amateur in which it trailed by 20 credibility or more.
2016: Vero Beach 28, Sebastian River 6
Why it matters: The teams had accumulated for a17-0 record, but Vero Beach bedeviled to abjure the Sharks their aboriginal undefated approved season. The Fighting Indians ran their regular-season acceptable band to 33 amateur as Jermaine Pearson ran for 119 hasty yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Mike Dean anesthetized for 187 yards and two scores.
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