The Del Norte Warriors insist Mike Whalen Field is good to go for this weekend’s state championship football game amid speculation on Monday that there could be a switch in venue.
The CIF has expressed concern to Del Norte High that the field conditions might not be suitable for such a high profile game, but Warriors head coach Nick White says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It looks amazing,” White said of the field. “For this time of the year, it’s in the best shape it’s ever been.”
The Warriors will play El Monte High for the Division 5-AA title, and if the game is switched from Crescent City it would take place at Humboldt State’s Redwood Bowl and moved up from 6 p.m. to earlier the day, with St. Bernard’s also hosting a state bowl game there that evening.
The Warriors, however, don’t want to play in the Redwood Bowl, which is a 90-minute drive from Crescent City, and feel they have earned the right to play a first-ever state bowl game in Del Norte County.
The school took drone footage of the field on Monday to send to the CIF and have plans to cover it for the week in order to protect the surface from any forecast rain.
With road games on each of the past two weekends, the Warriors have not played a home game since November 23 and have not even practiced on the field in that time.
White talked to El Monte head coach Jesse Ceniceros this week and says he believes the Lions are happy to play the game in Crescent City.
The Lions also play their home games on grass.
The CIF’s concern may have something to do with Las Lomas’ trip to Albee Stadium for an NCS playoff game last year, when the Eureka High surface was a mud bath.
The Del Norte field, however, is in far better condition this week than Albee Stadium was 12 months ago.
“If we don’t host this game, we’ll never host a state game,” White said. “The field is as good as it’s ever been. There are no excuses not to play it here.”
The head coach added he’s not expecting a final decision before Thursday, with the CIF monitoring the conditions, all of which makes travel arrangements difficult for the El Monte players and fans.
White also said he expects as many as 2,000 fans to show up at Mike Whalen Field if they get to host, but added far less will travel to Arcata for the game.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.