“Welcome to Bearcat Stadium. Home of Champions.”

With Bearcat Stadium set to kick off its 50th season on Sept. 1, a group of sophomores will join literally thousands of young men, and the occasional female, who have heard those words from the public address system while engrossed in pregame warm-ups.

Of course scores who grew here have also heard the Don Elmore derived phrase both before and after their playing days, watching friends, siblings and even their offspring don the royal purple and old gold.

From the perspective of the north side of the stadium, though many won’t dare admit it, it is also an imposing place to take the field. Signature bomb salutes, scoring play fireworks explosions, as well as Cherokee blaring from the band section serve as a constant reminder exactly where you are.

Booneville has been ultra successful at home since the stadium opened. Starting with a christening win over Charleston in the 1968 opener the Bearcats are 197-45-1 in the stadium during the regular season. That’s a winning percentage of .813.

If, in the forthcoming 2017 season, the Bearcats can win three games at home the average home record through half a century would be four wins and less than one loss.

Come playoff time the sledding tends to, predictably, be a little more difficult. With, ironically, 49 home playoff games through the 49 seasons, Booneville is 37-12, a winning percentage of .755.

That makes for an overall record of 234-57-1, a winning percentage of .803.

Which of the 292 kickoffs at Bearcat Stadium was the best? A small committee has selected what they think are the top 50 games of all time at the Home of Champions.

Starting Thursday, July 13, when there are 50 days remaining on the calendar until the kickoff, we will start a countdown to the season opener of the 50th year of the stadium by revisiting what the committee thinks were the 50 best games ever played at the Home of Champions. The stories will appear on www.boonevilledemocrat.com.

Criteria for selection included the meaningfulness of the game with special consideration in terms of playoffs or positioning for the same. Of course there are a lot of nail biters on the list but there are also multiple blowouts. Some records also warranted a position on the countdown as did program significance.

No thought was given to which seasons were represented so some entire years are omitted and others are represented multiple times.

Obviously the list is subjective and can easily be disputed.

Whittling the list to only 50 games was made somewhat less difficult because of the number of expected lopsided games. Still, some games that made an initial cut missed the final list.

Rather than regurgitate the scoring summary from the games we’ll try to provide insights from the way players or coaches recall the games. There may even be a little editorializing since, again, the nature of the pieces lend themselves to it. When possible photos will accompany the pieces, but that will likely prove impossible in most cases.

The fun starts a week from tomorrow. We hope you enjoy.