The race was on right up until a day before Mountaineer Stadium reopened.
In the first 24 hours after the installation of FieldTurf and lighting was completed, the community shared in the excitement with the Dallas football team.
By the time the stadium has been back in use for 10 days, all four of the school’s fall sports teams that play on fields will have used the stadium for a home night game.
The field hockey team is scheduled to host Holy Redeemer for a 5:30 p.m. junior varsity and 7 p.m. varsity contest Monday night.
The football team, which was the first to use the new playing surface Oct. 4, was scheduled to be under the lights in its Oct. 11 Saturday night home game with Wyoming Area.
The boys soccer team played the first official home night game at Dallas, defeating Meyers, 5-0, and the girls soccer team was scheduled to get its chance Friday night with junior varsity and varsity contests against Crestwood.
Dallas athletic director Nancy Roberts expressed a sense of relief as she stood on the new field less than an hour after it was used for the first time in the football team’s 38-14 home loss to Wyoming Valley West.
Roberts compared the anticipation and excitement to that which surrounds the arrival of a new baby. That was complete with pictures and those wanting to touch their new treasure.
“Everybody thought it was really nice and was really impressed with it. Everyone wanted to know if they could walk on it,” Roberts said of a request that was granted when practical. “It’s been like Niagara Falls. Every night, people have been up here taking pictures.
“(The night it was completed), there must have been 80 or 100 people up here taking pictures.”
Work concluded at about 3 p.m. the afternoon of Oct. 3, meaning the football team was able to hold the light “walk-through” practice it conducts a day before a game on the new field. When the players returned to the field to get ready for their game, fans were already starting to arrive and cars were steadily flowing in, bringing a sizable crowd.
The lights even got their first public workout when a dark cloud cover led to the decision to turn them on at halftime even though it was the middle of the afternoon. The lights remained on as Roberts surveyed the field and assessed the fresh start for the school’s athletic program.
“Everything went well today. I just feel very relieved that we got our first (game),” she said. “Now, we know what we have. We got on it to play. We know the lights work.
“I feel really comfortable now that we got through it. I knew that by 4:00 today, I would feel better. It’s just incredibly exciting.”
Roberts said the process was an intriguing one for her as different work crews came and went, specializing in various parts of the project, including excavation, drainage and turf and lighting installation. As the pieces of the turf were combined on the site, a machine sewed in the permanent lines, marking the field for use for football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
The athletic director said she was particularly interested in the appearance of the field.
“Two of my things were: Will we have all the sports lines and will we have the Carolina blue, because it is a Dallas color and we should utilize it?” she said.
Those lines are in place along with the Carolina blue “D” at midfield and trimming each sideline, one of which reads “Dallas” and the other “Mountaineers.”
Because the district has a new track facility at the middle school, there was no need to allow room for a track around the field, allowing for a larger playing surface and a wider soccer field than most high schools are able to use.
With the stadium field complete, the last of the work turned to the nearby baseball outfield where site preparation had already been finished and it was time to install the FieldTurf.
Inside the stadium, the Mountaineers teams were ready to make the field a busy place.
The boys soccer team celebrated Senior Night there Tuesday with Nate Wood scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the win over Meyers. Nico Deluca added a goal and an assist.
Roberts said the football team’s final home game, Oct. 25 has been set for 2 p.m. against Pittston Area.
“That Saturday is Homecoming and Saturday night is the Homecoming dance and they want to keep everything on the same date,” Roberts said.
The next scheduling issues to be addressed are likely District 2 home playoff games for Dallas teams, including the unbeaten girls soccer team.
“I think it will be decided by District 2 but, hopefully, we’ll be under the lights,” Roberts said.