CHARDON, Ohio — High School football season has kicked off as many area teams get back to action Friday evening. For Chardon High School in Geauga County, they’ve been forced to call an audible while they scramble to find a place to play after a turf project drags on.
During the summer months, construction crews have been replacing the turf and scoreboard at Chardon’s Memorial Field. The project was expected to be done before football season began but hit a snag when heavy machinery caused damage to the sub-base of the field.
The damage caused delays in the timeline, forcing Chardon to make alternative plans for a site to host its fall sports, including football. But the problems didn’t end there, as a COVID-19 outbreak with one of the contractors forced even more delays.
The Hilltoppers were slated to play three of their first four games at Memorial Field and are the reigning Division-III champions, their first title since 1994.
Tim Smith, a local contractor who has worked in excavating for four decades, has expressed his disappointment at the forced delay, and says the damage extends beyond the field.
“Going undefeated and winning a state championship, it should’ve just been a magnificent experience,” Smith said. “Now, you can’t give these home games back to these seniors or the parents that are watching them.”
News 5 reached out to the school district, but they wouldn’t go on camera, only releasing two letters that were sent to parents. The most recent of which stated: “Field Turf notified us today that an installation crew will be on site Monday, August 9, 2021, to begin setup and layout. The actual field turf installation should begin August 10, 2021, and is estimated at three weeks to complete depending upon the weather.”
Chardon played its first football game at SPIRE Institute in Geneva and will play Glenville Friday night at Riverside High School in Painesville.
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