Lights Up Last Time at Dr. William A. Reed Field
November 18, 2021 by Rich Kelly

The lights at Dr. William A. Reed Field at Berkshire High School have seen many superb performances by both Berkshire and Burton High athletes over the years.

The lights at Dr. William A. Reed Field at Berkshire High School have seen many superb performances by both Berkshire and Burton High athletes over the years.

There’s been some memorable work on that patch of grass, which opened in 1957, then saw lights installed and used in 1957. The plays will be pondered for lifetimes.

That said, the same will be true as Berkshire Schools moves ahead into its new buildings and grounds at the start of the coming school year.

With the proper disposal of the current school properties in the books, and the school board still dealing with delays getting into the new digs, attitudes of optimism are mixed with thoughts of the past for the school. They were the Burton Maple Leafs, now the Berkshire Badgers.

Pride goes with the territory, no matter the generation. Friday night, in a ceremony attended by several hundred brave souls on a cold and windy night, the lights at Dr. William A. Reed Field were lit one last time.

Numerous humbled speakers shared memories and thoughts on the field. And then, in a somber closing atmosphere, the American flag was lowered and current Berkshire athletic director Brian Hiscox used electronic signals to turn off the lights one last time, sending everybody who stayed all night with memories for the ages.

Festivities got under way just after 6:30 p.m. as a huge bonfire was built. In breezy conditions, it was a sight to behold and enjoy, if just for the heat it generated. Then, as winds picked up, local law enforcement roamed the area on the practice field next to the stadium advising everybody to be aware of windblown sparks.

Once the program got underway, many shared about their experiences on the gridiron, including recent soccer team leaders and players. The football teams saw the bulk of the early year successes, but the Badger soccer teams have gotten into the action more recently.

Former coach Russ Hurd, who spent 31 years leading Burton and Berkshire football players on the field, spoke early. He led the program for 17 seasons, then assisted another 14 after his planned leadership days were over.

“I was blessed to have some really great people and players here while I was the head coach,” Hurd said. “I had so many great moments here, but possibly the biggest three I had were the 1973 game with Cardinal. Playing your neighbors is always a thrill, but that year, we were down at halftime by an 18-6 score, came back with 30 points in the second half to win, 38-16, and that began a run of great seasons for us.”

He continued: “Secondly, we were on our way after that season to a run of championship teams. The third thing that really stands out for me was our 1975 team, that ended up unbeaten and ranked third in Ohio for our division. That team was just something special all the way around.”

Jim Kellogg (1976) was a great athlete on many of those teams. This night was a heart-touching event for him.

“This is just great to be doing this tonight,” he said. “It brings back so many names, so many memories, and so much history. I still recall watching the teams from 1965, and again in 1972, seeing all those great players giving their best on this field. Seeing the first playoff game in school history here was such a special event as well.”

Ken Makowski (1981) also enjoyed the nostalgic atmosphere this night.

“I was born and raised here, ” he said. “I lived just a few houses down on the street next door to the school. We sure did have a lot of great times here, both scholastically and just playing with friends on this field.”

He continued: “I’m thrilled to see things moving to the new building and grounds for next year, but things that happened on this field are also very special and need to be remembered.”

Current athletic director Brian Hiscox smiled through most of the speakers. He looks forward to the future at the new grounds, but appreciates all that has happened since 1957.

“This is just a neat event,” he said early. on “It’s great to see a lot of people here, it’s great to see so many with their lettermen’s jackets that still fit, and it’s just great to have been part of both the former actions here as well as having a part in getting us into the new area for the future.

“The kids and community as a whole have worked hard to make this come true, but they also know what the history here has meant to their lives.”

Kip Freeman (1978) recalled his role in the history, too.

“I was just a little fella when I was here,” he said. “I wanted to play with my friends, though. I didn’t get to play that much, but I had a few moments with a big play or two that little guys usually don’t make, and that has played into relationships over the years that are so special to me and to my family.”

Coach Jack Arnold has spent his entire career in education with the Burton and Berkshire programs after graduating from Chardon in 1967. He’s coached there since graduating from college, beginning his tenure in Burton in 1972. He had visions of retiring to a quieter life but could not escape the itch to work with young men in football. Today Arnold is an integral part of what current coach Josh DeWeese is building.

Coming off a 7-4 season with another playoff appearance in the blend, both gentlemen know where their work is leading.

As festivities concluded, current athletes Lucas Stoddard and Josh Brown shared how important past efforts on Dr. William A. Reed Field were to them.

Then it came down to Superintendent John Stoddard, facing both the end of an era and the beginning of another. His words were concise.

“It’s important tonight that we honor and cherish the memories that have been shared here tonight,” he said. “At the same time, we will be advancing into a new building with new facilities that also will be providing important memories for those to come here in Burton. They, too, need to be cherished and honored. We, as an administration and school board, are proud to be part of all this, and take our responsibility seriously. The times of today are something we must deal with, but we need to deal with it all honestly.”

The family of Rick Burzanko, whose passing 12 years ago left a huge void in the community, also participated in a special presentation which elicited tears at times. Burzanko was a custodian and athlete of great success, along with some family over the years. The plaque presentation to three members of his family, still involved themselves with operations for the schools, was made by Jerry Hiscox in honor of Burzanko’s detailed and constant work in maintaining facilities around the school.

There just isn’t enough space in this story to share the ideas of so many who were there, nor to honor Dr. William A. Reed for his contributions.

As communities battle over so many things, this night in Burton touched everyone positively despite the cold and wind.