CUMBERLAND – Saturday night’s Division II-B football contest between Cumberland and St. Raphael is still scheduled to kick off at 7 o’clock.
The location, however, has changed.
Thanks to Friday’s rainstorm shutting down operations on the track surface at Tucker Field, Cumberland officials found themselves in a precarious position, that of scrambling to find a last-minute venue that would still allow the game to take place on its rescheduled night. Their wishes didn’t go unanswered for long, as Pawtucket’s Max Read Field will now serve as the Clippers’ “home field” against the Saints.
Cumberland High Athletic Director Frank Geiselman confirmed the relocation plan Friday afternoon. Originally, Geiselman inquired about the availability of Lincoln High’s Ferguson Field. A tentative agreement appeared to be in place, but the plans changed after Lincoln called off Friday’s home game against East Greenwich and opted to play it instead on Saturday.
Pressing forward, Geiselman reached out to Bryant University (the Clippers played their Sept. 14 nonleague game against Cranston West at Bulldog Stadium).
“They were very gracious, but they couldn’t get the field ready or the people in place,” said Geiselman.
The third crack at securing a spot ended up yielding happy returns. Reaching out to Shea High A.D. Ray McGee, Geiselman informed him of his predicament to which McGee and Pawtucket Maintenance Manager Chris Crawley quickly obliged.
“We didn’t want to play at Pariseau Field because that would have been Saints’ home game. If we have to play away, let’s have a somewhat neutral site,” Geiselman explained. “We got nice corporation from Chris and Mike.”
The Cumberland-SRA matchup was originally on the docket for Friday night with the hopes that the construction project to transform Tucker Field into a first-class facility would be done by then. As the target date drew closer, it became more and more apparent that the first athletic activity of any kind at the completely revamped multi-purpose arena would not be taking place as originally anticipated.
With “Friday Night Lights” no longer an option, the game was moved to Saturday, the hope that an extra day would prove beneficial. Cumberland Parks & Recreation Director Michael Crawley noted that Cape and Island Tennis & Track – the Massachusetts-based crew responsible for installing the track – placed the rubber surface on the track Friday morning before taking into account what was looming weather-wise.
“(The project overseer) got a call saying that rain was coming in,” said Crawley. “Luckily things were stopped because otherwise it would have been a mess.”
Without question, Geiselman wanted to play on Saturday evening.
“If you play Sunday or Monday, it just throws everything off. You would have a short week, so that’s we wanted to get it in (Saturday) if we could,” said Geiselman. “It’s bad enough when you play playoff games the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. That’s a tough schedule and something you don’t want to do during the year.”
The hope is that Tucker Field will be completely operational by the time Cumberland hosts Mount Hope on Oct. 18.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t play at home, but even before we started, we were anticipating the middle of October,” said Geiselman. “As luck would have it, we had a shot, but the window closed.”
Added Crawley, “You’ve got a million dollar project and the last thing you want to do is to rush to get one football game in.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03