STANDISH — Halftime had begun at Bonny Eagle High, and over 100 young football players, ages 6 to 10, excitedly awaited their chance to enter the tunnel.

In a corner of the west end zone sits a huge green and white inflatable tunnel, complete with a giant helmet through which the players spill onto the field.

After charging through the tunnel, the kids play a series of mini-scrimmages as part of the halftime entertainment during the varsity game.

“They get to see and feel what it’s like to be on the high school team,” said Richard Pierce, one of Bonny Eagle’s volunteer football boosters. He arrived four hours before the high school game to do several chores, including the inflation of the tunnel and helmet.

Pierce was not alone when he drove his F-150 onto the campus four hours before kickoff. Football booster club president Vada Boudette was there to greet him. Eventually others appeared, preparing the concession stand and clothing booth.

“It takes parents to make it happen. It really does,” said Pierce, whose son Lukkas is the Scots’ nose tackle.

The Bonny Eagle football boosters have plenty to do with the longtime success the Scots have enjoyed. The boosters fund everything from equipment to stipends for extra assistant coaches. And that’s just for the varsity team. They also fund teams at the middle school and youth level, as well as a flag-football league that begins in kindergarten.

The parents at Bonny Eagle are not alone. Other high school football teams, such as Sacopee Valley, rely almost entirely on booster funding, while some teams have bare-bones budgets and receive critical aid from boosters.

“Schools everywhere are more reliant on booster clubs,” said Rich Buzzell, who has been the athletic director at Marshwood High in South Berwick for 13 years. He said his school provides the “basics,” with boosters picking up added expenses, including extra assistant coaches.

Sacopee Valley, which currently plays only a junior varsity schedule, relies on boosters to pay for everything except transportation – including coaching stipends, officials’ fees, electricity for lights and equipment.

At Bonny Eagle, the school supplies 12 footballs, stipends for five coaches, transportation and maintenance of the field. The boosters take care of nearly everything else, supplying the necessities (helmets, shoulder pads, etc.), some extras (stipends for three extra coaches, for example) and, occasionally, a little more – such as the inflatable tunnel and football helmet.

Head coach Kevin Cooper gets a lot of credit for the Scots’ consistent success. But he knows he isn’t alone.

“The boosters do so much for us,” he said.

Boulette is in her 15th year of volunteering, even though her son Mitch graduated from Bonny Eagle in 2007. She said the booster club budget “is close to $140,000” annually.

Nearly a third of the budget comes from youth football registration fees. Then there are fund raisers, like the annual car show and a golf tournament.

And of course there are the concession stands at the games: cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fries, nachos, hot chocolate. Chili is on the menu for $2.

On a good night, concessions bring in around $2,500. Add another $800 from the clothing and gift booth – Bonny Eagle football sweatshirts and sweatpants, caps, winter hats, pens and a 94-page program full of advertising.

The concession stands and booths are also open during the youth football games on the weekend – a recent Saturday brought in $2,000 in clothing sales.

All of the boosters are volunteers. They seem like a small army on Friday nights.

“There is no sport in this community that pulls the community together like football,” said club vice president Chris Day.

Day played on the first Bonny Eagle eighth-grade team in 1989. Football took baby steps in the early 1990s, becoming a high school varsity sport in 1992.

Football is a school’s most expensive sport and Bonny Eagle’s school board (MSAD 6) could not fully fund the program.

A booster club was formed.

“When I got there, there were a just a few booster members,” said Cooper, who became head coach in 1998. “The numbers have gone up.”

Call it a successful feeder system. As Bonny Eagle built its youth programs, it also convinced parents that they need to get involved.

“We tell them we have to have their help,” Boulette said. “Without it, registration costs would go way up.”

Bonny Eagle has 220 players in its youth leagues. They pay from $65 (flag) to $140 (youth and middle school) in registration costs, reasonably low considering that the boosters provide the players’ equipment. There is no activity fee for the high school players.

Cooper has 65 players on the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. It is a perennial contender, with five state titles between 2004 and 2013, that keeps attracting players – and their parents who volunteer. He takes the team to a training camp in Oxford for a week before the season and players are expected to pay for it. Many defray the $350 cost by selling ads for the program.

What Cooper and the football boosters have done is create a cohesive community out of four rural towns of Buxton, Standish, Limington and Hollis.

They talk of “Scots Pride,” which are the words printed on the side of the inflatable tunnel.

The tunnel was purchased seven years ago at the end of the season, using extra funds the club had raised. It cost $3,800, according to Boulette.

“People were flabbergasted that we would spend money on that,” said Boulette, who was not the president back then.

Cooper said the tunnel “makes the kids feel like the big time … it’s kind of unique to run through that tunnel.”

Pierce, who became involved in the boosters 11 years ago when his older son Nikkolas was in the Little Scots league for third- and fourth-graders, said the tunnel is “more than worth it.

“It’s a statement. The parents do a lot of work and we got together and bought it.”

Maybe the tunnel and helmet was an extravagance, but is also a source of pride for a winning program and the vital role that’s played by its booster club.