CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Central football has a new buzz at practice. The Champaign City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday night to amend an intergovernmental agreement to allow the Maroons to host one varsity game at McKinley Field. Wheaton Saint Francis will take on Central next Saturday, Sept. 24 for a 1 p.m. kickoff. Being able to play where they practice is a big win for the players and program.

“Everyone’s stoked actually, like today’s practice is probably going to be one of the best practices we’ve had,” Central senior running back Kharthyl Jhrell Phillips said.

“It means a lot to us to be able to play on our home field that says Maroons and it just means a lot to kind of have something that we call ours,” Central sophomore quarterback George Rouse said.

“This is where they call home and to be able to have that at least for one game is something that, it’s really something that I think a lot of people take for granted, but these boys don’t,” Central head coach Tim Turner said.

The Maroons let their voices heard in the process of getting the game approved, attending a city council meeting last month before the vote. Central has played its home games across town at Centennial’s Tommy Stewart Field for years, sharing the same facility as rival Centennial. After McKinley Field was renovated and the football field added, freshman and junior varsity games have been played there but no varsity contests.

“The greatest part about it is that the kids had so much to do with it,” Turner said. “It was their doing and they had to do some leg work and they had to see how government works and it was awesome.”

That first true home game for the Maroons will have to wait though. First things first, a rivalry game at Centennial in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. Central will look to carry the excitement of Tuesday’s news into the matchup against the Chargers, a team they haven’t beat since 2019.

“We’ve got a big game this Friday,” Turner said. “I think the best thing to do is get through this week and then kind of let that soak in and deal with next week next week.”