Even after opening the season with a win on the road last week, the Poughkeepsie High School football team looked for a home-field advantage against visiting Eastchester on Friday.
The Pioneers got something better: A new home field.
More than an hour before D'Andre Smith tossed a 70-yard pass to Adolfo Peralta for Poughkeepsie's first touchdown (on the way to a 46-7 victory), the Pioneers and their school-community christened their new athletic facility.
Smith finished with three TD passes and one rushing TD.
"This is a very historic occasion for the Poughkeepsie City School District," Dr. Laval S. Wilson, the district's superintendent, said during a pregame ceremony.
Wilson said that "six or seven years ago," he and Greg Charter, now the vice president of Poughkeepsie's school board, looked at other districts' athletic fields and decided the Pioneers needed an upgrade.
"We thought we should have one of the best stadiums in the county," Wilson said. "So look around, and what do you think?"
The state-of-the-art complex includes an artificial-turf playing surface lined for several sports, a new digital scoreboard, elevated bleachers and a press box, among other amenities. It is part of a $22 million districtwide construction project that was "overwhelmingly approved" by taxpayers in 2009, Dr. Ralph Coates said.
"The board and I are very pleased with the outcome of this project," said Coates, the school board president.
Barbara Jeter-Jackson, a Dutchess County legislator who represents the city, said the Pioneers' teams -- from football and soccer, to baseball and more -- were worthy of the new facility.
"Our students are the best," she said, "and they deserve to play on the best."
Akili Hill, a freshman fullback/linebacker on the JV , said he can't wait for his squad to play its first game here.
"It's great for us, to have this," Hill said, "and it's great for the teachers to do this for us."
Among the assembled guests and dignitaries, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik, a Lourdes graduate, perhaps best summed up the sentiment of those in attendance: "Let's go, Pioneers!"