CEDAR FALLS – Open in the Dome. Close in the Dome.
The latter is a dream, but the former is a reality for the Central City football team.
The Wildcats will get to open the 2012 football season with an 8-man contest against Dunkerton on Friday night at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, scheduled to start about 8:30 p.m.. Central City and Dunkerton will follow the Clarksville vs. Midland game set for 6 p.m.
Central City Athletics Director and co-head football coach Matt Weis said the staff withheld the news until the first day of practice.
"Our kids are really excited," Weis said. "They responded like they were going to the Super Bowl."
The UNI-Dome is somewhat hallowed ground for Iowa high school football players. The stadium hosts the state semifinal and championship games, capping the season. Even though it is not a postseason appearance, playing at a college facility is still special and a motivation to return later in the year.
"Everybody is pumped (and) ready to go," Wildcats junior quarterback David Mosher said. "Coach looked at us and told us we're going to start in the Dome and prepare to finish in the Dome. That's what he's been saying."
The opportunity came about when Cedar Falls NU High closed its doors after last school year, leaving Central City with eight games and opening a spot on its schedule. Weis and Dunkerton Coach Travis Rigdon contacted each other and worked out the date. The junior high programs compete against one another so it was a natural fit.
"They got split from our district so we thought it would be nice to continue to play each other," Weis said. "It worked out we play Week 0.
"Clarksville and Midland had already scheduled a game at the Dome, but I didn't know. It was brought to my attention by Travis. We called and asked to be the late game and they said no problem."
This marks the second time under Weis the Wildcats hold an early-season game in the UNI-Dome. In 2006, Weis' first year as Central City head coach, the Wildcats beat NU High, 7-6, in an 11-man football contest.
"Our one game in the Dome we had a win, so we're hoping to go up there and repeat," Weis said. "None of these kids have had a chance to be in the Dome."
Mosher said it is a big opportunity to play at the UNI-Dome. He said he expects a competitive game that will be a lot of fun for the players and fans for both teams.
"I think it's going to be a blast," Mosher said. "It should be a good game."
The Wildcats are coming off a 1-9 season, while Dunkerton was 3-7, including a 47-2 win over Central City. A win would be important, and coming in the UNI-Dome will make it more special.
"It would be great to come out of the Dome with a 'W,' " Mosher said. "It would be amazing. Probably the greatest feeling I've ever had in my high school career."