High School Football

It will cost the Mountaineers one – possibly two – home games, but it’s worth the wait

Watch work on Bob Tisdale Field at Mount Baker

Crews work to improve the drainage at Bob Tisdale Field at Mount Baker High School on Monday, Aug. 21. Mountaineers coach Ron Lepper says plans are for sod to be installed Tuesday, Aug. 29.
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Crews work to improve the drainage at Bob Tisdale Field at Mount Baker High School on Monday, Aug. 21. Mountaineers coach Ron Lepper says plans are for sod to be installed Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Anybody who’s stepped on Bob Tisdale Field at Mount Baker High School during the month of October could tell you there was a problem draining water off the field.

“I always joke with (Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper) to keep an eye out for a freshman we lost while playing over there a few years back,” Lynden Christian football coach Dan Kaemingk said.

While no players have actually been lost, chances are a few shoes have needed to be dug out after sinking in and sticking in what becomes a soft muddy mess after fall rain storms blow through the area. Last year the problem became so bad that an Oct. 21 game against Lynden Christian was moved to Sedro-Woolley for player safety.

The good news is that the school district is working to correct the field drainage issue.

“The issue has been not so much about the drainage,” Lepper said. “They got down there and found the drainage wasn’t so bad; it was just that the water couldn’t get to it. They found about 18 inches of stuff that wasn’t very good and kept the water from draining properly. Story is, years ago they brought in some stuff last minute to make a crown on the field, and it just didn’t work very well.”

The “stuff” has been removed, Lepper said, and is being replaced with material that should allow the drainage system to function properly.

0827 Baker field (2)
The Bob Tisdale Field Mount Baker High School looks a little muddy Oct. 25. The field was closed for the rest of the football season because of the poor condition, but the field’s drainage system is being worked on this summer. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Unfortunately, the project did not get an early enough start to allow the Mountaineers to play a full home schedule on their field in 2017, as work is still progressing. Mount Baker will open with a home game against Roosevelt Friday at Meridian High School, and a Sept. 29 game against Lynden Christian is currently scheduled to be played at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium.

“The plan is next Tuesday (Aug. 29) to lay sod down,” Lepper said. “If we do everything right and take care of it, then three weeks after that’s done, we can play on it. So we’re hoping that everything will work out, and we’ll get to play that Sept. 29 game at home. ... We just need to take care of it right.”

Baker’s remaining two games against Nooksack Valley (Oct. 13) and Meridian (Oct. 27) are already scheduled for Bob Tisdale Field.

It’s exciting to be a part of it. Hopefully it pays off and it will be a class facility for the kids.

Mount Baker football coach Ron Lepper

Even though the project will cost them at least one home game, Lepper said it’s been good for the team to watch its home field be rebuilt, literally, from the ground up as it practices on an adjacent field along Highway 542.

“Obviously, we see it happening, and there have been a lot of Mount Baker alumni working on that field, from the guys driving the trucks to the guys working on it right now to the person who got the bid,” Lepper said. “I’ve had five ex-players working on it at some point or another. I even had eight days where I was working on it, myself, helping put the drainage in and working on the irrigation system.

“It’s kind of cool. It’s exciting to be a part of it. Hopefully it pays off and it will be a class facility for the kids.”

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