Big Foot High School has announced that its football team’s debut at the new athletic complex will be delayed.
Because of construction delays, the football team’s Aug. 16 preseason scrimmage and its first regular season game on Aug. 23 are being moved to Delavan-Darien High School.
Similarly, the Big Foot/Williams Bay boys soccer co-op’s games on Aug. 28, 29 and Sept. 5 are being moved to Williams Bay High School.
With a particularly rainy spring, construction on the new turf facilities slowed down. According to athletic director Tim Collins, in the first 96 days of the construction project, it rained on 66 days.
The athletic department and Hellas Sports Construction were hopeful that the weather would clear up and the construction could get back on track. But with so many days lost, these delays were not something that came out of nowhere.
On July 17, at one of the twice-a-month meetings between Big Foot staff and Hellas staff, the group realized that with the amount of work remaining before the field is ready to be played on, the deadline would need to be moved back.
From there, Collins had to begin to find alternate sites for his affected teams to play on.
For the soccer team, it was a relatively easy solution. With Williams Bay making up part of the co-op, the team will just play their games at WBHS until the Big Foot field is ready. Over the past few years, the ChiefDogs have typically played a game or two in the Bay to give Williams Bay players a shot at a home game.
“This is something we’ve been trying to do as part of the co-op for a while,” head coach Keith Blakeman said. “They’ve been open to it in the past, and we expect it won’t be an issue.”
Not only has the boys soccer team played at Williams Bay before, this spring the girls soccer co-op played all of its games there when construction was beginning.
The boys team might take another cue from the girls team and host practices at Duck Pond Recreation Area in Fontana, as the girls did in the spring. With practices not beginning until Aug. 19, the team has not made a final decision yet.
For the football team, moving its games was a bit more complex.
The team could have instead played its first game against Jefferson on the road, but the Chiefs preferred to keep the game closer to home for their fans’ sake.
Then the task became finding a nearby school that had an away game in Week One, and Delavan-Darien fit the bill. With the Comets playing only three home games this season, Collins says the Delavan-Darien athletic department was happy to have an opportunity to bring in a little extra concessions revenue.
While new Chiefs head coach Mike Welden has not been out to Delavan-Darien’s field yet, the players participated in a scrimmage there last season. So the team will not be in an entirely unfamiliar environment. With the Aug. 16 scrimmage coming a week before the first game as well, Welden believes playing at a different school will be an issue.
The football team also needed to find somewhere to practice, but their solution to that problem came a bit closer to home. With one softball diamond on the Big Foot school grounds still intact, the coaches realized they could squeeze a full 100-yard football field onto the outfield grass.
At his previous coaching job in Grafton last summer, Welden faced a similar situation, with a new field not finished in time for practices. However, that Grafton team ended up practicing on only a 50-yard field, and they still made the playoffs. So Welden will accept any complaints from his players.
“We can’t use this as an excuse that we’re not ready for Week One or our scrimmage. We have plenty of space to get better,” Welden said.
Big Foot’s girls tennis team will not be affected by the delays. While two new courts are a part of the construction project, the four prior courts were only refurbished, not torn up and rebuilt.
While the football and soccer coaches admitted they were a bit disappointed that they would not be able to start the season on their new state-of-the-art facilities, they said that the eventual debut of the field is something everyone is excited about.
“The guys are definitely looking forward to it. Absence makes the heart fonder, as it were,” Blakeman said.
Luckily for the Big Foot players, coaches and fans, it looks like the rainy weather is in the past.
“I don’t see much rain in the forecast for the next week. We’re in a drought, and that’s okay with me right now,” Collins said.