The location for Denison football games has remained unchanged for more than a century.

The location for Denison football games has remained unchanged for more than a century.


What originally started as just a field in Forest Park for the newly-formed sport added simple seating for those coming to watch.


And then in 1939, the site took on a totally different look. As part of the Works Progress Administration put forth by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, the version of Munson Stadium that currently stands was built and is one of the oldest structures in existence — only 33 high school stadiums in Texas are older.


The opening game took place on Sept. 15, 1939 and was a 12-7 loss against Sulphur Springs. It was not the way Logan Stollenwerck’s Yellow Jackets wanted to christen the new stadium since Denison hadn’t lost at home since Nov. 10, 1935. The first Jacket touchdown in the building was a 57-yard pass from Ed Acree to Joe Hale in front of nearly 3,000 people.


There have been additions and renovations to parts of the facility since then, including after the program’s state championship in 1984, as Denison has tried to keep up with those around the state seemingly aiming for bigger and better.


This Friday, the Yellow Jackets (6-3, 5-1) host McKinney North (5-4, 4-2) in an important District 13-4A game. Denison can earn the district title outright instead of sharing it while the Bulldogs are looking for a piece of the crown as well as a playoff berth.


"I wanted to go out undefeated at home," senior center Justin Bigelow said. "The coaches were telling us to be the last team to win district. With all the stuff going on this is a big game for us. It’s a huge game for us."


It will also be the final event to take place before construction of a new $5 million facility, thanks in part to generous donations from the Munson Foundation and the Gerard family, starts on Saturday morning to be finished in time for the 2014 season.


"If we win this one, it has to be the best one. We’re going to take a picture with a gold football no matter what. I can’t think of a better way to finish off the stadium," said Denison head coach Chad Rogers about his two years on stadium sidelines. "The neatest part is when it is built, there will be so much excitement in the community."


The following are thoughts from the coaches who led dozens of Yellow Jackets into Munson Stadium over the past decades.


Cody White (2007-11): "I always loved playing there. It had character. It was neat that it was downtown and part of the community where today you don’t see that a lot. New places get thrown up on the edge of town. I’m glad they’re keeping it in the same location. First win as a head coach was there. Only one Sherman win in 2009 because realignment had back-to-back at their place. The McKinney game sticks out. A year after we beat them 65-64 at their place, they had the same cast of characters and we forced five turnovers, really laid it on them (Denison scored a school-record 75 points in a 75-37 win in 2009)."


Bob Brown (1992-2006): "When I first came to Denison, I got here really early to look at the community and the stadium and the schools. I ate breakfast at the restaurant across the street and thought, ‘Aw surely that’s not it.’ Over a period of time I grew to like that place. I grew to love that place. I had three different coaches talk about, before the game when we were warming up, ‘we hate coming up here to play. We feel like we’re beaten before we played.’ From 1992-97 we only lost four games there. Coaching football in Munson Stadium for a Yellow Jacket coach was a great advantage. We really wanted to rub salt in the wounds when the Booster Club put that board up. We wanted to make sure kids warming up saw all the success. (In 1995) That was the first win I had over Sherman and we weren’t supposed to beat them. That was for the district title. For what they built, it stood for a long time. This community is very proud of its past. The pride factor goes right back to that spot."


Marty Criswell (1981-1991): "When I interviewed they never showed me the stadium. It’s unique and it’s special. It was a great place to play. It’s fun to go back now for games and there’s people sitting in the same seats from 30 years ago. That warms my heart. The people packed that place. As soon as you opened the gate it was full. I think about some of the great performances we had, some of the goal-line stands. I think of Erick Harper the first time he waved his arms on a kickoff and the crowd erupted. I was pretty lucky with coin flips (Denison hosted playoff games in 1984 vs. DeSoto and 1985 vs. Waxahachie). It was uncharted waters for everyone. We hadn’t made the playoffs in 25 years. We had light poles in front of the stands, between the fans and the field. I mean that was dangerous. It looked like a rodeo. Now we’ve got a new image of ourselves. I’m thrilled they’re keeping it on the same site. That’s the window to the community. It’s the first impression for a lot of people."


Jerry Blankenship (1976-1980): "It was older than most stadiums were back then. It was very homey. I don’t think people liked to come there because there wasn’t a lot of room for the visitors. In many cases it was an advantage. I look forward to seeing it. For Denison it’s an improvement and that’s tremendous."


Corky Bowling (1967-1969): "I have some good memories as a player (Bowling was a Yellow Jacket from 1945-47) and some poor memories as a coach. We just couldn’t get things going. I was an assistant in Tyler at Robert E. Lee and visiting Denison because we were on break. I knew Herman Bailey and went and saw him. Herman offered me a job as backfield coach and head track coach. When he left for Highland Park I accepted the job. The game I remember the most was as an assistant, against Highland Park (a 40-33 Denison win). It was back and forth the whole time. Herman and Earl Turner, the line coach, and I were on the sideline. We had just swapped touchdowns and Earl Turner said, ‘I hope they hurry up and score so we can get back out there and win the game.’ Sure enough we scored right before the end of the game. Back then there were two dressing rooms with a shower in the middle for the visitors. They had this big water heater with a coil that would scald you. Teams never liked that. It’s a wonderful thing they are getting a new stadium. And for it to be raised by local funds is even better."