Friday Night Frights: Texas high school football field built on top of old cemetery

‘Welcome to the graveyard’

Rogan Field in San Saba - also known as The Graveyard. (San Saba Independent School District)

SAN SABA, Texas – High school football players in one Texas town have been scoring touchdowns on top of an old graveyard for nearly 90 years.

Texas Football Life, a culture-based Twitter account, shared the fascinating fact on Thursday stating that Rogan Field in San Saba was built on top of a cemetery.

KSAT reached out to the district and librarian Deanne Cromer shared some old newspaper clippings that provide more inside into the field’s history.

The land was first donated by Dr. J.C. Rogan in 1858 for San Saba’s first cemetery. By 1878 the county’s commissioner’s court prohibited further use of the cemetery, according to a clipping from the Standard-Times provided by Cromer.

By 1910, Rogan’s descendants regained control of the land after a local church failed to maintain the cemetery.

Around 1934-35, family members who had loved ones in Rogan’s cemetery were urged to exhume the bodies and bury them elsewhere, however, some families either couldn’t afford it or had already moved away.

“As a result, not all the graves were removed,” the Standard-Times clipping states.

Rogan Field was built on top of the site in 1935 for the San Saba High School football team and became widely referred to as the graveyard.

Rogan Field in San Saba - also known as The Graveyard. (San Saba Independent School District)

San Saba coaches in the early 90s started using the history of the land to their advantage.

“Sometimes a player from the other team will break into the open field, but he’ll trip and fall for no apparent reason. We’ll just laugh about it,” San Saba assistant football coach Ronnie Schulze told the paper. “Sometimes we’ll beat a team at home that we shouldn’t beat. We’ll just look at each other and grin about it.”

“At times when we played there, a player would trip in the open field and we always knew it was bc of a skeleton reaching up and grabbing us,” one Twitter user commented.

According to the Express-News, fans who entered the stadium used to be greeted with a sign that read “Welcome to the Graveyard” when they arrived at the stadium.

The sign was removed after some people complained that it was disrespectful and it has since been lost.

A replica sign is now displayed on game days.

In August, a former San Saba student and football alum Jake Lackey told KWTX that the gridiron will likely always be grass as opposed to the typical turf fields many fields use today.

“You’ve got to have a drainage system for turf and you’ve got to dig down five, six, seven foot — well you start digging down five, six, seven foot you’re going to start hitting graves,” Lackey said.

San Saba is located about a two-hour drive northwest of downtown Austin.

Rogan Field in San Saba - also known as The Graveyard. (San Saba Independent School District)

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.