By Justin Vigil-Zuniga and Trevor Morgan
Signal Staff Writers
New artificial turf arrived Thursday morning at Valencia High School, where a team was waiting to start back up on the delayed turf replacement project. According to the William S. Hart Union High School District, the team will work six days a week to finish before its new deadline, Sept. 1.
Renovation of the field was scheduled last summer but the first of several delays pushed the project back to 2023.
“The good news I can share is that I was just sent pictures of the turf being offloaded from the trucks at Valencia, which was part of the timeline that we had communicated to us, which means that the turf is here and the work has begun,” said Hart District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman in a phone interview. “So we are hopeful that we’ll be able to get that taken care of in the time that has been communicated to us and get kids back on the field.”
According to Mark Crawford, director of human resources and athletics for the district, the repeated setbacks also affected Saugus High School, which will now have to wait until June 2024 to receive new turf for its field. Both Valencia and Saugus were originally scheduled to have turf this summer but only Valencia will receive the new turf in 2023.
The delay for Saugus’ field will save the district $200,000, as the two parties negotiated a 50% decrease in price due to the setback.
The district announced schedule updates Wednesday night, which showed that every team will still play at home the week it was scheduled to and not have to opt into playing away.
Vikings football is normally one of only two local teams to play games on its own campus, but with the field unavailable, West Ranch High School will host its very first home football game on campus.
Wildcats football will host Pasadena on Friday, Aug. 25, at 5 p.m. The school doesn’t have sufficient lights for the typical 7 p.m. game so will host a little earlier in the day. The field is a standard football field but currently has small bleachers set up for about 100 spectators. Nonetheless, West Ranch has plenty of open space around its field and will have options for meeting the demands for a football game.
Hosting the game was the fourth option for the district, but with Pasadena’s scheduling conflicts, a game at West Ranch was the call made. The school will have extra bleachers added to accommodate around 1,400 attendees.
Construction at College of the Canyons has also made rescheduling difficult for the board, leading to nearly all games being played at Canyon High School. Valencia, Saugus, Castaic, Golden Valley and Canyon will all play games at Harry Welch Stadium over the next three weeks.
With all the extra treading on Canyon’s field, Crawford walked the field Thursday morning to determine if it would need replacement in the near future.
Upon completion of the field project, Valencia football will be on the road for two weeks and will likely not play on its home field until Sept. 22 in a Foothill League matchup with Castaic, which also calls the Vikings’ field its home.
The first football game on the field will likely be West Ranch hosting St. Paul on Sept. 7 or Castaic hosting Eastside on Sept. 8.