Another Exciting Season in the “Football Capital of Kansas”
Crawford County is known as the “Football Capital of Kansas,” and this name is well-earned. As the summer begins to wane and school begins anew, many local residents look to the fall football season as a time for tailgating, sold-out crowds at Carnie Smith Stadium, and hearing the cannon fire time and again as the Gorillas score.
Pittsburg State Gorillas
Pittsburg boasts one of the most successful NCAA Division II football teams in the nation in the Pittsburg State Gorillas. The Gorillas enter the 2017 season with 697 all-time wins, putting Win No. 700 clearly in sight for the coming season. Head Coach Tim Beck returns for his eighth season with the Gorillas, after leading the team to their third NCAA Division II National Championship in 2011. This year’s schedule of games includes the home opener September 9 versus Central Oklahoma, Family Day September 23 versus Lindenwood, and Northwest Missouri October 28 at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Tailgating at Pittsburg State has long been one of the best atmospheres of any NCAA university. The smell of barbeques cooking by various tents, games of cornhole and pregame festivities led by the Pride of the Plains marching band and PSU Spirit Squad build the energy before kickoff arrives. PSU simplified their tailgating policies last year to provide an enjoyable, safe tailgating experience.
KSHSAA 5A State Football Championship
In addition to the Gorilla’s football season, Pittsburg also hosts the KSHSAA 5A State Football Championship annually at Carnie Smith Stadium. A long season of football for 5A high school teams throughout Kansas culminates in the final trip to Pittsburg. Last year, Mill Valley High School won the title over Goddard High School in a double-overtime knockout.
The next few years will see plenty events held at Carnie Smith Stadium, including the 2018 Kansas Shrine Bowl. This event, hosted by Pittsburg for the fifth time, is expected to bring 7,000 to 8,000 fans to the area and $2 million in economic impact.
Pittsburg has also been chosen to host 2018, 2019, and 2020 NJCAA Football National Championships. NJCAA assistant executive director Mark Krug sees Carnie Smith Stadium as the perfect venue for the game: “The NJCAA had to find the right partner and site in order to bring this event back to life after a nearly 30-year hiatus. The Crawford County CVB and Pittsburg State University displayed a true passion for the NJCAA and is committed to going the extra-mile for our teams and student-athletes.”
From Gorilla Nation and our high school teams to its ability to attract statewide and national events, Pittsburg has truly earned its reputation as the Football Capital of Kansas. Don’t miss out on this year’s football season; get out to a game and cheer on your favorite team!