In aftermath of tornado, football unites Joplin

By DAVE SKRETTA | September 10, 2011 | 1:40 PM EDT

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The high school football stadium still stands in Joplin. So much else is gone.

The tornado that struck in May swept away homes and businesses, friends and families, killing more than 150 people and leaving billions of dollars in damage.

There's comfort in routine, though, and the Joplin High football team will give thousands of residents a taste of normalcy Saturday night. The Eagles play rival Hillcrest in a home opener like none the town has experienced.

More than 10,000 fans are expected at a stadium built for 4,500. A moment of silence is planned, along with a flyover and performance by country music star Kenny Foster. Then the two teams will take center stage under the lights for a game everyone has been anticipating.