First Posted: 9/23/2014
The schedule may have read home game, but that wasn’t exactly the case for the Dallas football team.
As preparations continue on their newly-renovated high school stadium, the Dallas Mountaineers have had to play their first two “home” games on the road.
The season-opener against Scranton was played at Misericordia University’s Mangelsdorf Field, while the second home game was played at Lake-Lehman against Coughlin on Sept. 20.
Dallas Area School District superintendent Frank Galicki said last week he’s confident the Mountaineers will be at their home stadium – complete with new turf and lights – in time for the next home game on the schedule.
The Mountaineers are set to play Wyoming Valley West at Mountaineer Stadium Oct. 4 in what could be a key game between two Wyoming Valley Conference teams with large school playoff aspirations.
“Right now, we are looking at an Oct. 4 date (for the stadium re-opening), for that Oct. 4 football game,” Galicki said on Sept. 17. “But we may be able to take a look – if it’s ready before then – at a field hockey game or a soccer game for the first event.
“A lot of it is going to depend on exactly when in that first week of October that it is going to get turned over to us. My date to them was Oct. 1 and it looks like everything is going to be ready for Oct. 1.”
Galicki said it has not yet been determined if Dallas will make the immediate switch from Saturday afternoon to Friday night home football games once the construction work, including lights, is complete.
The lights were delivered to the site last Thursday, while the FieldTurf was expected to be delivered on Sept. 23.
“Everything’s on time and on task at this point,” Galicki said.
For now, there has been no change in time or site for the Oct. 4 afternoon game against defending District 2 Class 4-A champion Wyoming Valley West.
Dallas football coach Bob Zaruta said on Sept. 19 that, while his team is excited about the prospects of the new stadium, he has tried to limit discussion of the topic to keep the uncertainty of the first true home game from becoming a distraction.
“When the lights are turned on for the first time and we walk out of the field house to the field, it is going to be exciting,” Zaruta said.
There are other benefits than simply adding excitement for the football team and the rest of the athletic program.
Zaruta sees playing on artificial turf as an ideal fit to what has developed into one of the WVC’s most versatile and explosive passing attacks in his third season as head coach.
“I think it plays to our team strengths of our offensive system and our team speed,” Zaruta said. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Dallas teams will also be more confident in their ability to get in proper practices late in the fall and early in the spring with the stadium and an adjacent baseball outfield converted to FieldTurf.
“It’s also going to help our practices,” Zaruta said. “When you have the opportunity to practice on a consistent surface, it certainly helps, especially when you get the rains we get and the field starts to take a different shape and form as it gets a little colder.”