If you haven’t seen a high school football game in a while, you are really missing something. The game you may remember from your own days as a teenager has changed and evolved into something slicker, quicker and more entertaining than you might imagine.
Last Friday I attended the Huntington Beach-Canyon game at the HBHS campus. The contest itself was exciting, but the setting was what really caught my eye. Cap Sheue Field on the campus is one of the oldest prep football stadiums in Orange County, but now it’s dressed up to look as modern as a Tesla.
That’s only one of the area stadiums that are looking very 21st century. The old Jason Field at Garden Grove High School – opened in 1957 – has been torn down and is being replaced with a state-of-the-art Michael Monsoor Memorial Stadium, honoring the former Argo who won a posthumous Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq.
Scheduled to be dedicated on Friday, Sept. 8, the new facility will be a gleaming modern edifice with an artificial playing surface (which can be used for soccer as well) and track, a new concession stand and press box, and – praise be! – much better LED lighting. The first game will feature Garden Grove High’s Argonauts taking on Woodbridge in a non-league contest.
Monsoor Stadium will be the home field not only for GGHS, but also Santiago High, Los Amigos High, and anybody else in the Garden Grove Unified School District who needs a venue when it’s available during football season.
Next on the do-over list is Bolsa Grande High School, where the almost-as-old stadium there is set for a complete replacement as well. Bolsa is the home football field for not just the Matadors, but also La Quinta, Pacifica and Rancho Alamitos.
For the time being, Sheue is a good preview of the shape of things to come. It’s got all the bells and whistles that a modern stadium has, along with some other sweets, such as a scoreboard that doubles as a video screen, and a big sideline video display that allows players and coaches to watch instant replays.
In addition to the more robust facilities, the players themselves are more imposing. In my day, a football player at or over 200 lbs. was considered quite big; in Friday’s game – according to rosters printed in the game program – HBHS had 13 players in that club and Canyon had 21.
The running backs and receivers are faster and the game play more sophisticated with pistol and shotgun formations replacing three yards and a cloud of dust. But, of course, there’s no more dust, because the games are now being played on dust-free, dirt-free, mud-absent artificial turf.
It may not seem like it, but not all of our local high school football teams debuted in Week Zero. La Quinta, Orange, Rancho Alamitos, Ocean View, Santiago and Westminster will be on the gridiron for their first contests of the 2017 season.
We won’t be starting our weekly High Five ranking of teams in the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area until after Week 1, but if we had to pick a number one, it would have to be Edison, with Pacifica not far behind.
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s prep grid schedule. As always, game times, dates and even matchups are subject to change without notice.
- Thursday: Laguna Beach (1-0) at La Quinta (0-0) at Bolsa Grande Stadium; Torrance (0-0) at Marina (1-0) at Westminster High; Orange (0-0) vs. Anaheim (0-0) at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.
- Friday: Garden Grove (1-0) at Westminster (0-0); Los Amigos (1-0) at Ocean View (0-0); Bolsa Grande (0-1) at Cerritos (0-1), Savanna (1-0) at Rancho Alamitos (0-0) at Bolsa Grande Stadium; Santiago (0-0) at Costa Mesa (1-0); Edison (1-0) at Oaks Christian (0-1); Huntington Beach (0-1) at San Clemente (1-0).
- Saturday: Newport Harbor (0-1) at Pacifica (1-0) at Bolsa Grande Stadium.
Pete Zarustica writes the Monday Morning Coach each, uh, Monday.