WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) – This is not what the football field is supposed to look like.
About 2 inches of rain fell in an hour on Friday at the Southmoreland High School football stadium, and as the photos show, it wreaked havoc on the field.
Cell phone photos show a river running through Southmoreland’s Russ Grimm Field. The water, moving with such noticeable force, it lifted the turf and pushed it out of the way.
“I couldn’t believe the field was actually, you could see it rippling and moving,” said Athletic Director Charlie Swink.
The water has receded and now school district officials are assessing the damage. Adding to the mess, the gravel and sand foundation has washed away, creating mounds of debris – a hazard hidden under the remaining turf.
“We are thinking it might be a total loss at this time, we don’t know, fortunately we do believe our insurance will cover it,” said Superintendent Dr. Jack Molnar.
A football scrimmage last Friday already had to be moved.
And now the home opener this Friday against Jeannette will also have to be moved. School officials are hoping to have the field in a usable condition by the beginning of October, in time for homecoming and Senior Night.
A permanent fix could take months.
“Every school has a football team, every school understands school spirit, every school understands what happens on a Friday night during a home football game and we certainly want to give our kids that advantage as soon as we possibly can,” Molnar said.
Both the boys and girls soccer teams are also being affected. The goal is for them to play the first part of their season on the road and finish out at home.
About 25 sporting events need to be rescheduled.
“When you look at what we have to play on this field, between boys and girls soccer and middle school football, I mean it’s a tough challenge, but I think we’ll get through it and we’ll make it happen,” said Swink.
The school district will lose about $5,000 a week in ticket sales and concession stand revenue – money they hope to make up later in the year.
For now, the No. 1 goal is paying safely, even if that means playing on someone else’s turf.
“I said the best thing you can do is use this experience and use it on your opponents, win the games you got and when we come back here, we’ll come back as a winning team and move on from there,” Swink said.
And some good news, the first game against Jeannette has already been rescheduled. It will be played on Friday at California University of Pa. in Westmoreland County.