With the new synthetic turf installed at Tucker Field, school officials hope to break it in on Saturday when defending Division II champion Cumberland High hosts neighboring rival St. Raphael Academy at 7 p.m. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
CUMBERLAND â One more day â at least thatâs the hope that the Cumberland High football team will be allowed to hit its home turf for an intriguing Division II-B contest against St. Raphael Academy.
With the track portion of Tucker Field still in the final phase of completion, school officials decided to push the Cumberland-SRA matchup ahead a day, moving it from Friday night to Saturday night. Kickoff remains at 7 p.m.
âThis has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that no matter what, you need to have a drying period between layers,â noted Cumberland High Athletic Director Frank Geiselman when reached not long after a decision was rendered on Thursday afternoon. âWeâve had good weather, but the mornings have been damp and thereâs been a dew on everything. We canât get started on anything until that dries out.â
Redoing the Tucker Field track became the priority last week after a summer-long project to replace the natural grass football field with state-of-the-art synthetic turf was ruled complete.
âEverybody just assumed that the game was going to be played because the field is done, but the project is not done. Thatâs the difference,â stated Cumberland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Crawley. âThe project was to redo the football field and then resurface the track.â
Geiselman noted that Cape and Island Tennis & Track â the Massachusetts-based crew responsible for installing the track â worked straight through last weekend, though ended up losing several valuable hours one day earlier this week.
The unanticipated delay pushed everything back to the point that the project presently stands a couple of layers behind. The final push to get Tucker Field completely operational will take place Friday.
âThe last two layers are easy and go on pretty quick,â Geiselman pointed out. âTheyâre very close.â
The final coat of sealant will be applied on Saturday morning. Once everything dries and all the plastic that was put in place to protect the refurbished field is picked up, Geiselman hopes that the clock reads 5 p.m., which would grant him and his staff ample time to rake the field.
âThen we would play at seven,â was the picture painted by the head of Cumberlandâs athletic department.
There is one possible fly in the ointment that could result in the rescheduling of Saturdayâs tilt.
âThe only way that it wouldnât go off is if we have rain (Friday during the day or at night). They couldnât put the stuff down because it would just wash away,â Crawley cautioned. âThis (track) company is doing what it takes to get this right. Theyâre not going to try to cut corners in order to go a little quicker. You want to have a good product when all is said and done.â
A dedication ceremony will take place 15 minutes before the Clippers and Saints take the field at 7 oâclock. The pregame pageantry will not include a salute to Cumberlandâs 2012 Division II championship, though Geiselman noted that something could take place at a future game at Tucker Field.
âWe didnât want to have too much planned just in case all these things happened, and sure enough, they happened,â Geiselman said.
Shea will put its 2-0 Division II-B mark on the line Saturday afternoon when the Raiders travel to West Warwick to face a winless Wizards squad. The Raiders are coming off back-to-back shutouts of Pilgrim and Central.
âThe kids have played very well and Iâm very proud of them. Being 2-0 in the league is a great start, but weâve got a long way to go and a lot of tough games still to play,â stated Shea mentor Dino Campopiano. âIn my opinion, West Warwick is not an 0-2 team. Records at this point donât reflect how good or bad a team is, and obviously West Warwick is 0-2, but theyâre a good 0-2 team.â
Two teams in search of its first win of any kind will play Friday as Tolman hosts Bishop Hendricken in Division I action while Lincoln rolls out the welcome mat for East Greenwich in a Division III encounter. Also Friday, North Smithfield hosts Division IV foe North Providence.
On Saturday, Woonsocket will look to maintain its perfect ways when Westerly pays a visit to Barry Field. These two teams staged a dramatic finish a year ago with the Novans escaping with a one-point win. Woonsocket is 2-0 in Division II-A.
Finally, Burrillville travels to Narragansett for a 2:30 p.m. Division III matchup on Saturday. The Broncos will look to rebound following last weekâs home loss to Mount Pleasant.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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