Photo by Lukas Eggen
Muddy conditions on Ron August Field led Dallas athletics officials to move the Dragons first-round playoff football game to rival Central High School’s facility.
As of Tuesday, November 8, 2016
INDEPENDENCE — When Dallas’ football team celebrated its 50-14 win over Eagle Point on Friday, the team turned toward their home fans.
But it wasn’t the familiar confines of Gillespie Stadium that they saw — it was Panther Stadium at Central High School.
The Dragons’ home playoff game was moved because of field conditions at Dallas.
“It was too muddy,” athletic director Tim Larson said. “Unless it was a pro field, I don’t think any grass field would have been in good condition with all the rain we had. There would be no traction for either team.”
Larson said the decision to move the game was the school’s choice – they were not forced to by the OSAA.
Dallas did host Lebanon on Oct. 28 – a game that decided the Mid-Willamette Conference league champion.
“It didn’t seem like it was in that bad of shape, but once the players got on it, it was pretty clear,” Larson said.
Dallas football coach Tracy Jackson said he understood the decision.
“I would say that I felt like the mud took away some things that make us a little more special,” Jackson said. “The mud can turn players like Tanner (Earhart) or Aaron (White) and make them regular. I felt being on turf gave us the best chance of being successful.”
Larson reached out to Central athletics director Shane Hedrick.
“It’s about helping your neighbor sometimes,” Hedrick said. “In the community, when you get a law enforcement call, we rise together. This happened to be an opportunity where their field wasn’t playable and ours was available. It’s an honor to let Dallas use the facility. Dallas had a big win against Eagle Point on the turf and it allowed the game to be decided on the field rather than a mud bowl. It was a matter of helping each other out.”
Dallas defeated Eagle Point 50-14 on Friday. As the Dragons celebrated a victory, players didn’t seem to mind the change of venue.
“We had a little less of a crowd because of it, which is a bummer, but it’s a better field,” senior Caedmon Blair said. “It’s a field that we’re not going to slip on.”
Larson said the district has looked at possible plans to alleviate the drainage issues at Dallas High but are awaiting response from the city of Dallas on whether the district could tap into the city’s sewer system. If granted approval, the district would look at potential costs.
Dallas City Manger Ron Foggin did not find whether the school district had sent in an official request to the city before press time.
Plans to fix the drainage system would entail more than just the football field, Larson said.
“All the water that comes off the baseball, softball and practice fields all drains toward the south end zone,” Larson said. “Addressing that would open the door to using the field more. We could have soccer under the lights.”