Rather mild winter weather has allowed construction workers to make progress on Freeport’s new football stadium on the Buffalo Township campus.
The $4.2 million facility, being built by DeMarco General Contractors, is on schedule to open in time for the 2016 season.
Freeport’s first regular-season home game in their new digs will be against — oddly enough — Deer Lakes, the same school they closed the regular season with at James Swartz Stadium last year.
The opener is scheduled for Sept. 9.
For those who would like a sneak preview of the new stadium, the Yellowjackets will hold a scrimmage against Westinghouse at 10 a.m. Aug. 20. Not only will Freeport get to work in some new players after last year’s senior-oriented playoff drive, but it will give school officials an opportunity to do a dry run and work out possible kinks at the stadium.
The week after the Deer Lakes game, local fans will have a chance to see one of the state’s great programs when the Yellowjackets host Aliquippa. The Quips have had six consecutive undefeated regular seasons.
Here are some other tantalizing games for the upcoming season, the first with the six-class setup:
• Valley will begin its 50th football season at home Sept. 2 against Keystone Oaks. It just seems like yesterday that New Kensington and Arnold were consolidating, but Year 50 is coming.
• Fans won’t have to wait for the playoffs to see Apollo-Ridge play Beaver Falls. The schools have had outstanding opening night games the past two seasons, with the Vikings winning in 2014 and Beaver Falls winning in the waning seconds last year. Owens Field will be the site Sept. 9
• Highlands will host powerhouse South Fayette on Oct. 21 in a Class AAAA game. The Lions, piloted by former Riverview coach Joe Rossi, had a 44-game winning streak snapped in the WPIAL finals against Aliquippa last season.
• Burrell will play Valley for the 37th consecutive season Oct. 14 at Buccaneers Stadium.
• Kiski Area will play Armstrong for the first time Oct. 28 in a 5-A game. It could be the final Cavaliers game at Davis Field.
Athletes to be honored
Twelve area high school athletes will be honored as part of the 47th annual Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet May 21 at the New Kensington Quality Inn.
Besides the eight inductees, the following students will be recognized:
• Duane Brown, Apollo-Ridge, Valley News Dispatch Offensive Football Player of the Year.
• Logan Thimons, Freeport, VND Defensive Player of the Year.
• Vincenzo Schiano di Cola, St. Joseph, Valley News Dispatch Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
• Ashley Amato, Plum, VND Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
• Brendan Lettrich, Burrell, Cager Classic boys East MVP.
• John Castello, Mars, Cager Classic boys West MVP.
• Sadie Buchser, Riverview, Cager Classic girls East MVP.
• Jessica Philistine, Deer Lakes, Cager Classic girls West MVP.
• Damon Greenwald, Burrell, PIAA wrestling champion at 152 pounds.
• Bailey Bonnett, Highlands, PIAA swimming champion in the 500 freestyle.
• Nikki Scherer, Burrell, PIAA 100-meter dash champion.
• Anika Ignozzi, Burrell, Courage Award, for overcoming heart and respiratory issues at birth to earn a soccer scholarship.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.