At every home football game, fans at W.O. Smith Stadium hear announcer Luke Lochhead reminding them to look up.
"Keep your eyes to the skies and you just might be the newest member of the Yellow Jacket 1st and Ten Club!" he says over the PA system.
For 25 years now, local sponsors have made sure that each time the Yellow Jackets get a first down at a home game, a "1st and Ten" T-shirt is thrown into the crowd. Whoever catches it automatically becomes the newest member of the Yellow Jacket 1st and Ten Club.
The promotion was the brainchild of Jim Beers, who borrowed the idea from the SIU Salukis, where they have been doing it for over 30 years.
"We have never had to seek sponsors for the 1st and Ten Club promotion," Beers said. "Sponsors actually ask us to get involved. Football has been so popular here in Chester that our promotion sells itself. Everyone wants to be a 1st and Ten supporter."
Brian "Gritty" Snider of KSGM 980 AM Radio helped Beers organize the first year of "1st and 10" T-shirts. That first year, Bob Chambers of Silkworm Inc. and KSGM were the sole sponsors; but it wasn't long before other Chester merchants got aboard.
The 1st and Ten Club promotion happened just as Yellow Jacket football was coming into prominence. The "Sea of Orange" idea started at about the same time.
"Both activities created excitement and support for CHS football. I am not sure if those promotions had any real effect on the success of CHS football, but I like to think so," Beers said.
On average, 350 T-shirts get thrown into the crowd each season, so over 25 years about 8,750 shirts have been donated to support Chester football.
Snider of KSGM said he still sees people wearing some of the shirts that were thrown that first year.
"The promotion has been very popular and Yellow Jacket fans look forward to becoming a member of the 1st and Ten Club," says Snider.
The 2019 edition of the Chester Football 1st and Ten Promotion had 19 sponsors: Silkworm Inc.; Andy's Auto Body/Dan Geisen; State Farm Insurance Agency/Paul Gentry; Victor Medicenter Pharmacy; Rozier's Country Market/Bob Welker; Chester Insurance Agency; SWIBCO/Southwestern Illinois Bus Company, which carries the Jackets; KSGM Radio; Randolph County Herald Tribune; City of Chester/Mayor Tom Page; Reiss Ford in Marissa/Jim Dunning; Scott The Painter/Scott Reeves; Uptown Barbers/Tony Lochhead & Brad Coleman; First Baptist Church in Chester; Tequila's Mexican Restaurant; Muddy River Coffee; Tim Hall Construction; River City Auto Center and Memorial Hospital of Chester.
"The program began as an effort to bring an element of excitement to Yellow Jacket football, and has supported Jacket football for 25 years," said Beers.
"With continued help from our loyal sponsors, the 1st and Ten promotion will be around for many more years to come."