"Glory days well they'll pass you by Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye Glory days, glory days"

-- Bruce Springsteen

ANTIOCH -- It was a night of glory days in the very best sense.

As Antioch High School bid a fond farewell to its athletic field, nearly 100 former players and coaches came to take a final bow. The field begins its updated transformation this summer, thanks to the passing of Measure B last fall.

The brainchild of staffer Diane Wesenhagen, the idea was to gather as many alumni as possible. Despite having fewer than 10 days to do it, gather they did.

Calls and emails immediately started coming in, and by the Nov. 1 game, a long line of gridiron lads hit Eells Field one last time.

"I thought it was a terrific way to honor alumni, who played in the historic stadium during the past 57 years," said Principal Louie Rocha, Class of 1979 and an ex-defensive back. "(It was also) a way to thank them for the memories."

In between the junior varsity and varsity game that night, each Panther was introduced with the graduation year, position and, in some cases, the pro teams they joined.

"I was impressed by the wide range of graduating classes represented in the ceremony," Rocha said of the list that began with a 1951 grad (Bob Eyestone) and players representing every decade since.

Among those taking a bow were Jeremy Newberry (Class of 1993), who played with the 49ers, Raiders and Chargers; Aaron Miles (Class of 1995), a World Series champion; and Frank Beede (Class of 1991), a former Seahawks player.

"How amazing it was to see an entire football field filled with (those) who had donned the black and gold," Beede said. "As I stepped onto the field, I thought of Mr. (Walter) Eells, who dedicated a lot of his personal time to our community. I think that spirit lives on in all of us who continue to work and support the youth of our community.

"(Antioch High) has always been and will continue to be the foundation for the community. I am grateful to my hometown and to all those who worked diligently to pass the bond measure that made this a reality. As a former player, coach and athletic director for AHS, I can tell you this is an amazing win for the community."

The evening doubled as a reunion of sorts, with many old friends visiting alongside brothers and father-son pairings.

Said Herb Miles, Class of 1964 and father of Aaron: "It was awesome to go on the field again, and see so many of my old football buddies and friends. It was really a very special time and enjoyed by all."

Jim Magana, class of 1973, said, "Having coached at AHS for 20 years or so, I had an opportunity to see a lot of former athletes, teammates and Panthers I looked up to growing up in Antioch."

He said the best part was reflecting on the memories of "being a kid going to Marsh Elementary, playing JFL for the Marauders and looking forward to one day playing for the Panthers."

Steve Sanchez, Class of 1965 and the current AHS athletic director, said, "It brought back fond memories for our alumni and gave us a chance to be on the field one more time."

Eddie Beaudin, Sports Legends committee member, surprised Rocha with the football used in the first game at Eells field. The game ball from the alum event will be placed alongside it in the Antioch Historical Museum.

"AHS is a very special place, which is the reason I am so proud to be the principal," Rocha said.

Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net.

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