Flathead and Glacier will each be the home team in their opening games of the upcoming football season. They will not, however, play those games at home.
Delayed renovations at Legends Stadium in Kalispell will force both teams to venture to other area high schools for their Week 1 games.
Flathead will open its season against Butte at Bigfork High School, approximately a 25-minute drive from the Braves’ normal home, head coach Kyle Samson confirmed to the Daily Inter Lake on Thursday afternoon. The game remains scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24.
Glacier officials have been in contact with administrators at Whitefish about playing the Wolfpack’s first game there, but no plans have been set in stone. Glacier athletic director Mark Dennehy said his preference is to play the season opener against Billings Senior at Whitefish’s Memorial Stadium and added he is optimistic that the renovations at Legends Stadium will be complete in time to return home for Glacier’s Week 2 matchup against Great Falls C.M. Russell.
The Wolfpack was originally scheduled to take on Billings Senior at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, but the time and date, like the location, have been thrown into a state of flux and could be adjusted when the venue is set, if needed. The original time and date do not conflict with Whitefish’s schedule, as the Bulldogs’ opener at Memorial Stadium versus Hamilton is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26.
“It is a little disappointing to not be able to open up in your own stadium, for the fans and especially for our seniors,” Samson said. “But, you know, nothing I can do about it. Nothing our staff, our players can do about it. We’ve just got to move forward and prepare in the same way.”
The preparations, at least those on the field, may prove difficult.
Samson said he is unsure if Flathead will have an opportunity to practice at Bigfork before playing its game there.
“Bigfork’s got their own practice schedule and stuff,” Samson said. “I definitely would love to try to get at least one practice in there, if possible, just to get the players familiar with the area and the field and the lights.”
The renovations at Legends Stadium, a $958,100 project started in July, were scheduled to be completed in early August. The target date is now early September, as the Inter Lake reported Monday.
Permitting issues and the discovery of a manhole under the field that will require additional excavation work were cited as the causes for the delay.
After Glacier’s Week 2 matchup with CMR, both teams are on the road in the season’s third week before Flathead returns home Week 4 against Missoula Sentinel.