CANFIELD – Ohio (WKBN) – South Range Raider football has entered a new era. After opening a new school on route 46 in the fall of 2010, South Range has continued to play all their football games at Memorial Field in North Lima, behind the old school. Now a new stadium is on the fast track to have ready for competition in the next year.
On Friday night the Raider football team had a chance to experience a brand new turf field while scrimmaging Burton Berkshire in front of numerous parents, fans and administrators. It also provided a chance for the Raiders athletic boosters to showcase the new field and see what the athletic program has in store for the community.
“This is one of approximately four phases,” Raiders athletic boosters capital fundraising chairman Dr. Don DeChellis remarked. “The turf, we were able to do it all for right around five hundred thousand dollars, and with all private money with absolutely no tax dollars used for this. In fact, for the entire project their will be no tax dollars used.”
“Phase two, which we plan on having finished next year, includes a scoreboard, bleachers and lights. So we will be able to play Friday night games next year at this facility,” DeChellis explained.
Right now the Raiders football team must transport all their equipment along with the team, band and cheerleaders to Memorial Field for a Friday night game. Essentially forcing the Raiders to treat every game as a road contest.
Memorial Field, which was dedicated to World War II servicemen from Beaver Township in 1955, was later renovated in the 1990’s, and added a weight room just after the turn of the century. With the stadium now badly in need of additional renovations, but the school at a new location, it became vital to provide a new stadium at the current school.
“We’re getting tremendous community support,” DeChellis said. A lot of generous donations, especially from Phil and Gerry Rominger. The Rominger’s played a significant role in everything. In fact, without them this couldn’t have been done, or it would have taken a lot longer. We’re going to get this project all done in probably four years.”
The Rominger’s, who grew up in Beaver Township, and later became successful entrepreneurs in North Carolina have set up an foundation fund to help support the South Range Schools. In fact the entire sports complex is named after them and includes a locker and weight room dedicated in 2012.
“We have solicited advertising for the scoreboard which was a big fund raiser,” DeChellis said of the fund raising efforts they have utilized. “We also started the 300 Club. The 300 Club is a one thousand dollar donation, and it allows you to sponsor a foot of turf. There are 300 feet on a football field. For your contribution you’ll have your name on a plaque at the football stadium for as long as the stadium existence. First in line to purchase the chair back seats, and VIP parking for the first two years. And just the satisfaction of knowing you helped make this project possible.”
Other schools in the area that have also recently renovated or built new stadiums with field turf include East Palestine, Salem, Southern Local, Boardman, and Austintown. Crestview is also currently in the process of fund raising for a new field turf playing surface.
“Love it. We were on it all day yesterday, we came out in doubles just to get on it. You know we’re not on it a whole lot, because we don’t play a whole lot of turf games, but we wanted to get on it before the scrimmage,” Raiders football coach Dan Yeagley remarked.
With the location of the school and the stadium DeChellis admitted that hosting playoff games is a consideration, “Right now we’re not sure yet, but it’s going to be between three and five thousand seats. There is some discussion because we are in a prime location for (hosting) playoff games. There is such easy access from route 11, and ample parking, so it’s a dynamite location to host playoffs games. So we want to build it big enough for that.”
“This is not just for football. It’s also for soccer, and I’m the baseball coach here. Every March we go out and ruin a gazillion balls, but now we’ll be able to go out onto the turf,” DeChellis added.
DeChellis quickly confirmed that he thought the project also helped South Range land a new athletic conference after the ITCL voted to dissolve. “I think it definitely did. I think it is also a tribute to the entire athletic program at South Range.”
The Raiders will begin playing in the newly formed Eastern Buckeye Conference in the fall of 2018. They were accepted into the league in May of this past spring.