Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Music fans listen to the Craig Morgan concert at the Wy’east grandstands at the July County Fair. The same stands return to their original purpose, football spectatorship, on Friday night for the first varsity football game at the field since 1970.
As of Friday, September 21, 2018
Varsity football returns to Odell Friday in a rare community event for Hood River Valley High School.
The occasion is the Eagles’ first home game of the season, and the first varsity grid game on the Wy’east Middle School field since 1973, when the school was Wy’east High School.
Revitalized scoreboard and goal posts will greet fans and players.
The Eagles host Benson Tech at Wy’east because Henderson Stadium at HRVHS is still under construction; it will be ready for the team’s next home game, Oct. 5.
“It’s a dark green, cloverless field, absolutely beautiful,” said HRVHS athletic director Trent Kroll, “and what a setting, with a double-mountain view and the beautiful grandstand.”
Friday’s game will be free and starts at an updated time — 4 p.m., since there are no lights at Wy’east.
HRVHS’ FFA Chapter will serve free barbecue hot dogs and hamburgers, and Kroll said vintage Eagle gear, both Wy’east and Hood River high schools, is encouraged.
Kickoff will be at 4 p.m.
Portable bleachers will be available for those who cannot make it up the grandstand chairs.
Parking will be available at the neighboring County Fairgrounds.
Take a stroll around the back of the grandstand and view the panoramic mural promoting drug-alcohol-tobacco prevention, painted by students several years ago with help of artist Allison Fox.
“We’re sure some old 1970s and ‘60s sweatshirts and t-shirts are still out there, and people are feeling just being proud of a time you played out there whether in middle school or as little kids, or high school,” Kroll said.
JV games happen this season at Wy’east because of the construction, and the HRVHS Blue Gold game was held at the Odell facility. Otherwise, it’s a unique return to high school football use for the field and the grandstand that typically hosts middle school track meets, eighth-grade graduation and County Fair concerts.
Wy’east’s historic field drew a second look from Kroll this summer.
The JV games had been scheduled at Hood River Middle, but he said he started looking at Wy’east, as “maintenance has done a phenomenal job of taking care of it.
“The biggest challenge is people couldn’t remember the last time the scoreboard functioned, it had been over a decade was the guess,” Kroll said. “We found the old scoreboard control board, and it looks pretty brand new, apparently it was bought in 2004, and used for some middle school games.”
In addition, the old PVC pipe goal posts were replaced by reconditioned surplus ones brought over from HRVHS.
The Benson game was to be played on Saturday at Columbia High School in White Salmon, but Kroll saw Wy’east’s potential at the Blue and Gold night there.
“I was in the stands and heard people saying, ‘I remember playing out here.’ I thought, ‘This is awesome, community members hadn’t sat in the stands for 20 years,’ so coach (Caleb) Sperry asked his coaching staff and we made the arrangements.”
Kroll said, “Together with the custodial department and the administration, and Hood River County maintenance department, and the football staff, everyone has made it possible for this fantastic event at Wy’east.”
The logistical challenge with the 4 p.m. start is that school gets out at 3:20, “so everyone will just head up there from the high school.”