Tucson High School’s football program waited all year to finally play a home game at Gridley Field after a flood from a severe monsoon storm last August made the field unplayable the entire season.
After the field was restructured and its drainage system improved, the Badgers were set to host Pueblo tonight in their home opener. They even had Tucson High School dignitaries, such as graduate Rich Alday, the former legendary baseball coach at Pima College and New Mexico, cut a red ribbon in pregame festivities signifying the regeneration of the field and stadium.
Mother Nature, however, had different plans. Again.
Another severe thunderstorm with plenty of lightning delayed the start of the scheduled 7 p.m. game until Tucson High officials postponed the game around 8:30. The Badgers and Warriors will go at it tomorrow at 6 p.m. That start, of course, is dependent on Mother Nature’s cooperation.
“I told our guys, ‘Hey we didn’t have a field last year. We had to practice at Cherry Field every day. We had to play at Kino (Stadium). We just got delayed little bit. We’re kind of used to having to adapt on the fly so … It’s ironic right, we lose our field to a flood, and on opening night, it rains,” Tucson coach Justin Argraves said.
The natural question: How is the new field and drainage system holding up?
“Everything worked to plan,” Argraves said. “I know the engineering crew is happy.”
Tucson High faced a similar rain-delay scenario four years ago in a game at Ironwood Ridge. The coaches decided to play no matter what after the storm subsided.
“We kicked off at 9:30 at night and there were about 10 people in the stands,” Argraves said. “That was rough. We wanted to push this game tonight as far as we could but with the lightning, we could only push it so long.
“And then it starts affecting the crowd. We have to look out for safety in the first place, so we’ll come back tomorrow.”
The game between Cienega and Cholla at Cholla was reportedly rescheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow. Buena’s game at Sahuaro will be played at 10 a.m. Flowing Wells vs. Walden Grove will kick off at 11:00 a.m.
“Good thing we don’t (play early in the morning) because we have a handful of kids taking SATs tomorrow,” Argraves said. “That wouldn’t have worked out for us. … 6 p.m. is when we could get our officials and this is a really good officiating crew.”
Tucson High fans having to depart tonight's game vs. Pueblo due to inclement weather. Game to be played at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Tucson High. pic.twitter.com/0yxkNM5wgj
Other games affected by rain: Desert View at Sunnyside (will be played at a later undetermined date), Rio Rico at Empire (5 p.m. tomorrow), Glendale Cactus at Catalina Foothills (4 p.m.), and Prescott at Canyon del Oro (Sept. 21).
Another factor to consider, making tomorrow’s games logistical nightmares: Tucson Youth Football starts its season and many of the referees who work the high school games officiate the youth games. Argraves said some of the officials for the Pueblo-Tucson High game have prior commitments for their TYF games.
Some final scores from games that were able to be played tonight:
5A Marana 26, 5A Laveen Fairfax 0
4A Douglas 54, 2A Bisbee 7
2A Morenci 66, 2A Santa Rita 0
2A Willcox 44, 2A Lordsburg (NM) 18
2A Tombstone 46, 2A San Carlos 30
1A Superior 54, 1A Valley Union 0
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.