It was as Mike Mayers and his Grove City High School teammates had drawn up the play.

It was as Mike Mayers and his Grove City High School teammates had drawn up the play.

The senior quarterback took the snap from the Dawgs' own 10-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. He completed a screen pass to wide receiver Kyler Ferguson, who juked through defenders and darted down the sideline for a 90-yard touchdown on his team's season-opening drive.

Mayers and his teammates raced downfield to celebrate, but the euphoria quickly passed. He looked around and realized he was playing members of the Grove City faculty. His Dawgs helmet was replaced with a reversed Boston Red Sox cap and the Greyhounds first play from scrimmage came last Friday -- the fourth week of the regular season.

"We kind of did the play as a joke," Mayers said. "It was just a little screen so we could get the ball outside and give us a chance to knock down the teachers before we started taking things seriously. But (Ferguson) got away and made it a much more exciting play than we had expected."

The Grove City senior boys faced a team of male faculty members and the senior girls played members of the female faculty in a pair of flag football games at Grove City Christian. The students won both games, but, more than anything, they were elated to be doing something other than sitting in the stands as spectators on a Friday night.

Grove City is one of four South-Western City Schools, including Central Crossing, Franklin Heights and Westland, which canceled all extracurricular activities when the district's levy failed Aug. 4.

"We've been playing basketball and working on baseball and stuff, but it's not the same," said Mayers, who has verbally committed to play baseball at the University of Mississippi. "You need to experience the atmosphere and the competition. You can play as much pickup basketball games as you want, but the competition isn't the same and there's not 10,000 people watching you play."

The Grove City Christian stands were a little more than half full, but fans were at least two deep standing along the fence on the home side of the field.

"That's the kind of support you get from the Grove City football community," said Mayers, whose team beat the faculty 49-46. "They definitely miss it and we were champing at the bit to play."

The withdrawal by the fans was apparent by the turnout for a pregame tailgate held in front of Grove City High School. More than 300 fans and students geared themselves up for the games by taking tosses at a dunk tank featuring school officials and faculty members, roughhousing in a bounce castle and getting the competitive juices flowing with a few games of cornhole.

"I think the people in Grove City still have pride and this shows it," said Brian Weiskittle, president of the Grove City Athletic Boosters. "We have a lot of kids and coaches who left, but we still have a lot who stayed here. I think we have a great turnout here because people are trying to show their community spirit and show everyone that they still believe in the school and the kids."

The festivities spilled over into last Saturday when seniors in fall sports, including band, were recognized with their parents in senior night ceremonies, parading across the field between Grove City Kid Association contests. Every event, except for the tailgating, was a block away at Grove City Christian.

"(Grove City Christian administrators) said, 'Whatever you need, we can help,'" Weiskittle said. His daughter Amber is a junior cheerleader and his son Tyler is in the seventh grade and plays basketball. "They have community spirit and they know it would be hard for them to survive without Grove City. They also have a turf field, so we weren't going to tear it up."

Grove City senior Paige Myers is best known for striking out batters on the softball field, but she intercepted faculty member Judy MacNamee at the teachers 30-yard line on the first play of the second half. Myers returned the interception for a touchdown to tie the game at 21 and the seniors rolled to a 42-21 win.

"I love Friday nights and usually I'm on the sidelines cheering on the football team," Myers said. "It really gave us something to look forward to doing on Friday night, and we're so glad Grove City Christian gave us the chance to do this."