With a No. 1 state ranking, Meade was obviously one of the hottest teams in the state entering Friday’s matchup with Marion.
A little too hot, it would seem.
Fans who showed up around 6 p.m. anticipating an early start to account for Meade’s seven-hour round trip were perplexed to see the clock ticking down to a 7 p.m. start time.
They also may have been confused by the Halstead bus parked beside the field.
That’s where Meade’s bus caught fire.
“We stopped in Halstead and went to the restroom, got the sandwiches out, got about three miles outta town and it started popping,” said Meade head coach Scott Mosher. “We look over and the bus driver is sitting right up front, Tyler Flavin, and he goes, ‘We’ve got flames.’ It was just flames shooting up on the side of the bus. So we got pulled over, I told the kids, ‘this is what we’re gonna do: a bus evacuation. This is not a drill.’”
Mosher said the kids “were great” in evacuating the bus safely. Meade was able to procure a bus from Halstead and make it to the game. The delay cost Meade just over an hour in travel time, all but canceling out the game’s special early start time.
The Buffaloes didn’t let the episode throw off their play, as they charged to a 33-18 victory over the Warriors.
Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said he and Mosher arranged the two-year, home-and-away series because of the challenge for both teams.
“Initially, everybody was kind of skeptical about, ‘We’ve got to go to Meade?’ But I guarantee everybody that went to that game last year thought, ‘We had a blast,’” Thierolf said. “And I guarantee the Meade kids will never forget this trip — for one reason or another.”