Hammond vs. Ponchatoula in Strawberry Stadium this Friday


File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

Hammond High Magnet School will play against Ponchatoula High School on Friday, Nov. 8 at Strawberry Stadium.

Hammond High Magnet School’s football team is set to play against Ponchatoula High School at Strawberry Stadium on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.

The Hammond Tornadoes and the Ponchatoula Green Wave are considered athletic rivals within Tangipahoa Parish, and as a result, the game attracts attention from locals. Strawberry Stadium has played a role in the rivalry for years.

Steven Jones, head football coach and offensive coordinator for Hammond High, elaborated on the school’s historical connection with Strawberry Stadium.

“The buildings west of the University Center, that used to be Hammond High School,” explained Jones. “For tradition, we try to play one game back at Strawberry Stadium a year. We weren’t able to do that last year because it didn’t fit into our schedule. So, we’re looking forward to it this year.”

Jones also explained that the football game at Strawberry Stadium is attended by alumni.

“It’s probably even more enjoyable to all the fans because anyone 35 and up played all their games there when they went to Hammond High School,” said Jones. “They used to play the Hammond-Ponchatoula game there every year until they built the new schools back in the ‘90s, so it’s like bringing back tradition. I started my coaching career back in ‘78 and we used to play all our games there.”

Henry Tierney, head football coach at Ponchatoula High School, believes that the university football field is appropriate for the reputation of the rivalry game.

“We’re rival schools, so when we play against each other, we have a lot of people come out to watch and support,” explained Tierney. “We like to play at the university stadium for a big game like this one. The setting kind of just matches all the anticipation around the game.”

Jones shared that the stadium size will help accommodate the number of fans who attend the game and will provide the students with a new experience.

“It’s a good venue for the fans, and it’s an easier location for everybody to get to,” said Jones. “We have a small visitors’ side at home, and it’s not big enough to accommodate the crowd for that game. It’s also good for the kids to play in a college stadium and get that college atmosphere.”

Hammond High’s Senior Night will take place during halftime at the game. Tierney discussed the students’ past experiences playing at the university’s stadium.

“We played there two years ago, and they all enjoyed it,” explained Tierney. “It’s something we all can look forward to. It means a lot to the kids and their families, and it means a lot to the locals who grew up around this. The Strawberry Stadium is the best place to have this type of game.”

Currently, Ponchatoula has a 3-4 overall record, and Hammond is two spots behind them in the Louisiana 5A District 6 class at 3-6.