Maybe the toughest thing about the Crete-Monee High School football field not being ready for its home opener Aug. 26 is the players are losing more than a home game.
It was reported in Thursday's Times that because the new sod will not be playable for the season opener against T.F. South, the game will be moved to South.
That means the Warriors, who are coming off back-to-back Class 6A quarterfinal appearances, will start the season with three road games and will have just three home games. After a short trip to Lansing, they will travel to Lincoln-Way West and then across the northern part of the state to Moline.
Their new home opener is Sept. 16 against Glenbard South.
Superintendent Dr. John M. Rodgers told me there was new tiling installed to help with drainage, and new sod and grass were put in. He also said weather played havoc with the field because of the hot summer.
"It is weather related," Rodgers said. "We're disappointed we can't play (the opener), but if the field is not ready, we could do further damage."
That would probably wipe out the other games if that happened, and someone could lose their footing and suffer an injury. Moving the game was the right thing to do given the circumstances. Sod problems are not new, just look at the Bears and Soldier Field.
The other thing that hurts the school is the loss of revenue and tickets sales for this game. This has been a big game and drew about 3,000 last year. That's a lot of hot dogs, bottles of water and popcorn, not to mention the psychological advantage players have when playing at home. Crete-Monee may bring a big crowd to Lansing, but it isn't the same as playing in your own digs.
I looked at the field Thursday afternoon, and you can see the field looks good, but the grass isn't ready for game competition, let alone back-to-back games on the same night, because the sophomores will play first. If it were to rain Aug. 26, who knows what would happen to the surface. The only thing that looks bad is the hurdles that are scattered along the track and the high jump pad sitting in the south end zone since May. The hurdles are probably water-logged, and who knows how moldy the high jump pad is?
Crete-Monee is a top-notch football program and deserves better. Coach Jerry Verde and his staff have made it an elite program. He has more than 150 kids on three levels. The other thing I noticed is there was just one lined practice field. One field for all those kids? That has to be tough to tell someone to run 50-yard sprints, and you can't mark off the distance.
I hope the field is ready for Week 4.
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