With renovations to the Summerville High School Stadium expected to be under construction until October, the Bears football team will play its first two home games of the 2014 season at a different location.
Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Summerville Bears linemen Raul Dominguez (above, left) and Chris Caldera (right) work on conditioning Monday during the first practice of the fall season.
Summerville will host Bradshaw Christian and Hughson at Sonora High’s Dunlavy Field.
The Bradshaw Christian tilt will be on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m., and the Hughson clash is set for Saturday evening on Sept. 20 because Sonora also has a home game the day before.
“It’s better than traveling to Hughson or Sacramento,” said Summerville head coach Ben Watson. “So, going down to Sonora is better than going to the valley. That’s the one positive thing.”
According to Summerville Superintendent Robert Griffith, the stadium project — which includes installing a brand new artificial field turf, all-weather track and field, a snack shack and concrete bleachers — has a target completion date for the first week of October.
The Bears are tentatively scheduled to host Bret Harte on Oct. 3. at Thorsted Field.
“Everybody wants home games,” Watson said. “Everybody does. The kids especially. It’s going to be very difficult on them, but they’re tough. They’re Summerville kids. They’re going to work and play hard no matter where they’re at, and they’re gonna deal with whatever comes their way.”
Summerville, which kicked off the 2014 season Monday practicing in shorts and T-shirts in Tuolumne, is holding all its practices on the Bears’ baseball outfield.
Because the football team is without a regulation-sized practice field, Watson pointed out that one of the biggest challenges for the Bears is simulating a field with painted lines and working on special teams, especially the kicking game.
“Where do we go and practice our PATs?” Watson asked. “It’s not just a practice on the baseball field issue. It’s special teams. Playing on a 100-yard field with lines. Depth perception. Being able to play in the red zone. Stuff like that is all the things that we’re not going to have to our advantage until we have a field up there.”
With no field goal posts and uprights on the baseball field, placekicker and quarterback Bryce Farrell will have to practice kicking the ball in an unconventional way.
“I think I’m going to use the soccer goal posts to my advantage some how,” Farrell said. “It’s going to be tough. It might be rough for the first couple of games, but kicking’s one of the things that you get muscle memory for.”
Farrell is one of the key returners for a young Summerville Bears squad that went 2-8 in 2013. As a junior in his first year as a starter, the 6-foot-3 signal-caller threw for 1,563 yards and 11 touchdowns to garner first-team All-Mother Lode League honors.
With the Bears also returning two starting receivers in Jake Fulkerson and JT McCready, tight end Jordan Cashman and experienced running backs Nate Ulvevadet and Humphrey Quirie, Watson is installing some pistol formation to the team’s offensive arsenal this season.
“I’m happy with the effort so far,” Watson said. “The kids are learning. We’re going right into some of our complex offense. We didn’t start with the basics.”
Although Summerville won’t be able to play an on-campus home game until October — if the project goes according to plan — Farrell is proud for the opportunity to be the first Bears football team to play in the new stadium.
“Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised that I heard it was going to get rolling actually,” Farrell said. “And that I would actually get to play some games on the new field, so it’s bittersweet. We’re going to miss some games, but then we’re going to be able to play some games on an amazing field. So, am I sad? Yeah. But, am I happy for the future and the end of the season? Definitely.”