A river runs through it
Friday Night Lights (Kirkwood Edition) is delayed until October. Although administrators intended the artificial turf field to be ready Sept. 1, a 100-yard stretch of dirt remains where the field belongs.
“The initial field opening date was Sept. 1. That was postponed until Oct. 1. The football team has a game on that date, and we are optimistic the field will be ready,” Mike Wade, freshman principal, said.
Along with Mike Havener, assistant superintendent, Wade has helped supervise the construction of the turf field. According to both Havener and Wade, weather is the main reason for the delay in the construction.
“We calculated the number of weather days [days on which the construction would be postponed due to inclement weather] based on the amount of rainfall from last year,” Havener said. “However, the rain in May and early June this year surpassed that amount by a lot.”
According to Wade, weather postponed construction for 17 days. The rain caused a delay for much longer than 17 days, however, because the construction crew discovered an underground spring running under the entire length of the field which dumps in a creek across Essex.
“With all of the rain we had, the water from the spring came up onto the field,” Wade said. “There was so much water that there was standing ground water on the field. So, not only did we lose the days that we couldn’t work because of the weather, we lost the days when we could work because of the standing water on the turf.”
As long as there are no significant problems, the home football game scheduled for Oct. 1 will be played at Kirkwood.
“If there are more construction delays, [Athletics Director Jeff] Townsend can still rent another school’s field,” Havener said. “But for now, the Oct. 1 game will be played at Kirkwood.”
The delay of the field has impacted both the football and soccer teams, along with the marching band and the Pommies. The varsity football team will start its season playing away games until the field is ready.
“Thankfully, Coach Townsend had enough foresight to schedule only one home game in September,” Wade said. “For the game on Sept. 17, we will play at Oakville and it will be considered a home game.”
According to David Holley, principal, the game Sept. 17 at Oakville against Hazelwood Central will not be simply a football game at a neutral venue.
“We intend to make this game as close to a normal home game as possible,” Holley said. “The band and Pommies will both perform at halftime, and somehow we will make sure there is a strong student showing at the game.”
According to Townsend, football practice will not be greatly affected because the main football field was not normally used as a practice field for any of the three levels.
“We won’t be able to have the red and white football scrimmage that we have every year, but other than that, the construction shouldn’t interfere with the football program’s practices,” Townsend said.
The band will utilize other fields around KHS.
“In the past, we’ve painted lines on the upper fields for the band to practice marching,” Townsend said. “However, the band will have to use all of the fields to practice because marching is tougher on the fields than the sports themselves.”
The JV and freshman football teams and all three soccer teams have fewer home games than previous years due to the delay. The varsity soccer team has only six home games out of 28, the JV football team has one home game out of nine and the freshman football team has three home games out of eight.
“I know some of the seniors, including myself, are pretty bummed that we only have a few games at home this year,” Jay Frick, senior and varsity soccer player, said. “Especially because some of our games won’t be played on the main field.”
Townsend, Havener, Holley and Wade are all confident the home football game scheduled for Oct. 1 will be played at KHS.
“The turf is ready. At this point, it’s just a matter of finishing up packing the dirt that goes below the turf,” Wade said. “Unless there are more significant weather delays, there’s no reason the field shouldn’t be ready by Oct. 1.”