The seal has been broken on the 2016 college football season, and Arkansas state is part of the jubilation that is exploding the lid. Jonesboro is one of those tiny college towns that comes alive on game day, and with Toledo in town, A-State fans were painting the town red.
The opening game at Centennial Bank Stadium is a special one as the incoming class is oriented with an annual tradition known as “Order of the Pack.” An hour prior to kickoff, the student section swells with mostly freshman ready to learn the chants and traditions that add to the pageantry of game day. Many alumni sneak in as well to relive the good ol’ days. We snuck in and took part in the fun with antics ranging from swaying back and forth in unison to the Jaws theme and practicing our “wolves up” hand signals.
The Red Wolves charged out to a cacophony of fireworks and fan howling. Expectations continue to creep up every year and last season’s Sun Belt Conference title have the Jonesboro faithful craving more. “A rocket is just metal – a wolf has heart!” screamed one fan in hopes it would encapsulate Arkansas State’s advantage over Toledo. It turned out that “heart” wouldn’t cut it. The Rockets had their engines humming from the get-go and buried the Red Wolves by halftime. Hopeful fans waited around during halftime through the band performance and an explosive fireworks display. But, the stadium would slowly leak fans as the third and fourth quarters proved that A-State wouldn’t have the muscle to fight back.
Despite the slow deflation of enthusiasm throughout the game, it is clear that the atmosphere at Centennial Bank Stadium can easily be described as rousing with an ardent fan base that loves their Red Wolves with continual optimism for the season ahead.
On the other side of the field, Toledo appears primed to make waves in the MAC – a special season could be ahead.