North Medford football coach Steve Turner remembers fondly the last time the Black Tornado played an afternoon game at Spiegelberg Stadium, but that doesn’t mean he’s thrilled to be faced with a potential repeat.
Given the poor air quality that has plagued the Rogue Valley since June, he may be lucky to even have that chance.
North Medford was among a host of local football teams to have their regularly scheduled contests Friday rescheduled for Saturday, with games for Crater, Ashland, Eagle Point, Phoenix and St. Mary’s also affected due to another invasion of smoke in the area.
That doesn’t mean those games are set in stone, however, with forecasts unclear on whether the air quality will be improved enough by Saturday afternoon in order to play those games, as well as already scheduled boys and girls soccer matches and the State of Jefferson cross country meet at Ashland’s Lithia Park.
Decisions on all those events will be made throughout the morning, with road trips likely on the line for the local teams should there not be a break in air quality, which was at 144 (unhealthy for sensitive groups) at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
For Turner, his team has already seen its Week 2 home matchup against Jefferson moved away from Spiegelberg Stadium and he is crossing his fingers that a similar change isn’t warranted Saturday.
North Medford (2-2) is slated to play Sheldon (3-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Spiegelberg Stadium, with an air quality decision being made by 10 a.m. if there is a need to move that game to Eugene for a 7 p.m. start as a contingency plan.
“It’s just par for the course for our season,” a frustrated Turner said Friday about the postponement. “This is normal for us.”
Should the game remain here locally, it will mark the first time in 25 years that the Black Tornado has played an afternoon football game at Spiegelberg.
“These kids, I don’t think they’ve ever played at 1 o’clock on a Saturday,” said Turner.
That 1993 game was good to the Black Tornado, with the host team scoring a 28-3 win over David Douglas in the state quarterfinals during the team’s charge to the large-school state championship. Turner was defensive coordinator for head coach Rod Rumrey that season.
Playing on a Saturday just means a change in typical weekly patterns but no real advantage for either team, according to the first-year North coach.
“There’s only so much you can do,” said Turner. “You’re not going to be putting anything else in and you’ve watched all the film, it’s just reminders today and we show up tomorrow and play.”
Should the air quality not improve enough to play here locally, that would mean North Medford will have played only once at home (a 29-28 overtime loss to Bend on Sept. 14) until their only other home game on the schedule, Oct. 19 against Aloha. The following week the Black Tornado is the “visiting team” against South Medford at Spiegelberg.
“If it happens, we’re prepared to do that,” said Turner of being forced to forfeit its home status to Sheldon. “It’s not like we haven’t been on the road before and in different places. I don’t know if there’s any advantage for anybody in any of this kind of stuff.”
Eagle Point’s homecoming contest against Ashland has been moved to 1 p.m. Saturday at Eagle Point. If it can’t be played here, the next plan is to move it to Yreka, California, at 1 p.m.
Crater’s game against South Eugene has been moved to 6 p.m. Saturday, at Crater. If it can’t be played in Central Point, it will be moved to South Eugene, also at 6 p.m. A decision will be made by 11 a.m. Saturday.
Phoenix’s game against Klamath Union will now be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Phoenix High, with no word on a contingency plan for the Southern Oregon matchup.
St. Mary’s game against Douglas will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
In college soccer, the Southern Oregon men’s and women’s Cascade Conference games at Raider Stadium, scheduled originally for Friday and Saturday, have been pushed back a day.
On Saturday, the Raider women will face Northwest Christian at 11 a.m. and the men’s game will follow at 1:30 p.m. Sunday’s women’s and men’s doubleheader against Corban will also have an 11 a.m. start.