Boeglins a longtime Southridge stapleNovember 19, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Go to a game at Raider Field on a Friday night, and not only will you be treated to some pigskin action, but you’ll be stepping into the presence of the Boeglin Family — a longtime fixture of Southridge home games.
You might not be able to see Denny Boeglin and his wife, Ann, but you certainly will be able to hear them. The Boeglins have resided across from Raider Field since 1980, and have lit off fireworks at Southridge home games for more than 20 years — before the game and whenever the Raiders score.
“We’re sports fanatics — so, Major League ballparks, college football, fireworks — after touchdowns, after wins,” Denny said.
“And when we started, it probably was mainly in playoffs, if we had home playoff games, or if we had big games like Jasper, or Heritage Hills,” Ann said.
The Boeglins are a football family. Denny was on Southridge’s first-ever football team as a senior during the 1972 season. Their eldest son, Matthew, is a 2005 Southridge grad who kicked field goals for the Raiders team that went to state his sophomore season in 2002. They also have a younger son, Adam, who graduated in 2012.
When their sons played, Ann would go to the game, while Denny stayed behind and shot off the fireworks, or one of their sons or friends would do it so they could both go. They’re conveniently situated that they can see all the action at Raider Field from their house. It’s a rarity for them to go to the field because of the fireworks, though situations like a Dubois County burn ban would get them to the venue.
The absence of fireworks puzzled the Raider football players, who didn’t know a burn ban was in effect.
“”Even fans over there that saw us, personal friends said, ‘What are you guys doing here at the game?’” Denny said. “We said, ‘We’re here because there’s a burn ban. We can’t shoot off any fireworks.’”
The Boeglins have artillery shells such as Excaliburs that they light from their launching pad from their front yard. They stock up on their fireworks after the Fourth of July or if they vacation down south. Some have been kind enough through the years to donate their fireworks to them to help them out. They spend hundreds of dollars each year to do this, and have spent thousands through the years.
What the Boeglins do every home game is popular among the locals, but not everybody appreciates it. Opposing coaches have complained of the Boeglins being disruptive.
“Which we do not do,” Denny said. “I mean, if Southridge makes an interception or a fumble recovery, we’ll shoot some off just to fire the team up, but usually after every Southridge score or extra point, that’s when we shoot them off.”
Ann told the Herald on Monday that the Huntingburg Police visited them one year after a complaint, but they came to their house and laughed it off — approving of what they were doing, as they were former football players themselves. The Boeglins asked the police the following year if they could light the fireworks off, and they got approval — as long as they were safe in doing so.
Denny and Ann have gotten to know Raiders coach and athletic director Scott Buening through the years, but Buening found the fireworks jarring the first time he heard them.
“The first game Coach Buening was here for a home game, and Southridge scored, we set off the fireworks,” Ann said. “One of the coaches was on the headset with him…and Buening said, ‘What the hell was that?’ He said, ‘Oh, it’s just the Boeglins.’”
It’s all in good fun for Denny and Ann, and sometimes, fireworks have gone off when the other team scored. Some friends who went to Heritage Hills visited them for the game and lit some off when the Patriots scored, causing confusion among the Raider faithful.
“Even when we played Forest Park last year, and I don’t think they hardly scored, and when they scored toward the end, I think we set one off for them,” Ann said. “(Rangers coach) Ross Fuhs (a 2003 Southridge grad) is a good friend.”
The Boeglins aren’t always alone on Friday nights. They drew quite a crowd to their place before the COVID-19 pandemic changed things, and would rather not have spectators over now. People would bring lawn chairs and beverages to join them for the game, and the Boeglins would grill out and have a party.
“We’ve had as many as 100 people here before,” Denny said. “Years ago, we’ve had some big crowds here.”
Their love of football has propelled them to keep the tradition going. The Boeglins usually take vacation during the summer so that they don’t miss home games. They’re able to listen to the voice of the Raiders, Kurt Gutgsell, on WBDC, during the game, and make sure not to set the fireworks off prematurely. Denny and Ann have also had good fortune that the fireworks don’t malfunction on them.
Denny is also a big St. Louis Cardinals fan, and sometimes, he would multi-task what he would watch if a Cardinals playoff game coincided with a home game. Fireworks might go off from the Boeglin residence during a game if the Redbirds homered.
“A couple of times, I know Gutgsell would say on the radio, he goes, ‘Well, I don't know if that’s shooting that off for that touchdown or if the Cardinals just scored,’” Ann said.
Southridge can advance to the state championship game for the fourth time since 2002. The Raiders also went in 2006 and their Class 2A state championship season in 2017, but all three of their semi-state games were on the road. This time, Southridge will play Danville on Friday at home. The Boeglins know they’ll be lighting plenty off if the Raiders best the Warriors.
“We’ll shoot off everything we’ve got,” Ann said.
“And we’ve been talking about, ‘Should we have people here? Should we not — with the COVID and everything,’” Denny said.
Ann said family might show up, but Denny added they’ll have to see. He knew there would be a big crowd if it wasn’t for the virus.
They don’t see themselves stopping, unless they move elsewhere, which they have no plans to do. Players have thanked them, coaches would come up to them and hug them. Others in the community run into them at stores and express their gratitude for what they do.
“(Former Southridge athletic director Brett Bardwell) would always send us a thank you,” Denny said. Brett,” Denny said. “…It meant so much to him, but he always sent us a thank you that said, ‘Hey, you guys. You’re a part of Raider Football, and thank you so much — and I appreciate it, the school appreciates it.’ It just makes you feel good.”
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