Tue Oct 12 05:10pm EDT
Field conditions occasionally force a team to move a home game to an alternate site. When that happens, the scheduled home team is usually indignant. Yet, in Washington state a team is voluntarily giving up its home-field advantage for the rest of the season, because of the appalling field conditions you see below.
As reported by the Seattle Times, Enumclaw (Wash.) High School, a legitimate contender for the Class 3A South Puget Sound League title, is moving its final two scheduled home games because of the condition of Pete's Pool, the Hornets' home field. Enumclaw coach Don Bartel cited health risks as the primary motivating factor for giving up his team's home-field advantage.
"It's horrible," Bartel told the Seattle Times.. "It's not even safe. [...]
"Pete's Pool is an advantage in spite of the field, not just because of it. But you're looking at a situation where a game could be decided by factors other than the level of play or preparation or the skill of the kids."
Like a number of high school facilities across the country, Pete's Pool hosts far more than just high school football games. In the case of the Enumclaw site, a number of youth football teams and Green River Community College also play on the field, which combines with a rainy month to create the unplayable surface you see above.
There's hope that within two years Enumclaw could be playing in a new facility that would be less weather sensitive. As reported by the Times, the city received a $200,000 grant from the NFL's Grassroots Program and has found additional contributions to push the town closer to its $750,000 total goal. Anyone interested in donating to the Enumclaw project can do so via this link.
Still, that doesn't help Bartel or Enumclaw's seniors, who will have to make a run at the 3A SPSL crown on the road, all while they deserve to be hosting games themselves. According to the EnumclawFB Twitter feed, that long road will start this Friday at Orting (Wash.) High School's field, where the Hornets will play a "home" game against Lakes (Wash.) High.
That site might not be as good as Pete's Pool, but it's probably the next best thing, for the following reasons, as specified by the Times' Sandy Ringer:
Bartel lobbied for Orting for both dates, and not just because he is a 1991 graduate of the school. It's the one site that was available both of those weekends as Orting has away games. Otherwise, Enumclaw would play the "home" games at two different sites. In between, the Hornets play Bonney Lake at Sunset Chev.
This isn't a popular decision with a lot of people, as you can imagine. Enumclaw's "senior night" won't be at Pete's Pool. And the crowd setting won't be the same, no matter where the games are played.
No decision to move a team's senior game would ever be popular, but it's hard to fault Bartel's decision. At the end of the day, he's focusing on the safety of his players first, and that has to be the right call, regardless of any backlash that comes his way.