Eureka HS football team returns to home field for first time since 2018 tornado

EUREKA, Kan. (KWCH) For the first time since a devastating tornado tore through town, the Eureka High School football team takes its own field Friday night.

The June 2018 EF-3 tornado destroyed the team's field, more than 150 homes and more than 20 businesses. Last season, the Eureka Tornadoes played every football game on the road.

Eyewitness News and Catch It Kansas are in Eureka to cover Friday night's game and the festivities surrounding the homecoming for town's team finally returning to its home stadium.

June 26 marked the one-year anniversary of Eureka's most recent widespread-damage-causing tornado. An EF-2 tornado in July 2016 also caused widespread damage in Eureka. That storm destroyed 32 structures and left 31 more with major damage.

Last year's tornado caused even more damage and despite having much to clean up and rebuild, the community keeps encouraged with its motto: Eureka Strong.

"I knew we would prevail and build bigger and better than we did," Eureka business owner Kyle Rockhill said ahead of Friday night's football game.

The tornado last June "starved" the team from playing on its own field," Eureka High School football senior wide receiver and linebacker Justin Zimmers says.

"The atmosphere here is insane. The community here is beyond belief."

That community stuck with the team on the road trips last year that even made the Tornadoes have their homecoming on another team's field.

Fellow Eureka senior wide receiver and linebacker Zach Hare says the chance to finally play at home Friday is a gift the town, as well as the team.

"We've faced enough adversity to where everything's finally coming together and it's like, 'we deserve this, you know?'" Hare say.

He said he expected Friday night's game to have standing room only.

"Everyone should be around the gates. It's going to be a big game," Hare said. "I'm ready for the environment."