Stadium snafu: After a rumored County Clash venue change, Tuscola to host rivalry game
Heated speculation lit up social media the night of Oct. 3. The rumor: The 2022 County Clash wouldn’t take place at Tuscola’s C.E. Weatherby Stadium as planned, but rather at the Bethel Middle School football field.
While Pisgah should host the game this year, because of extensive damage to its stadium and field it will be playing as the “home team” at Weatherby. Monday evening, people took to Facebook to say the game would be played at Bethel and that it was a done deal. A number of different potential reasons were provided.
And the rumor seemed compelling for a while. Even an article in the Mountaineer with the headline “Audible! Pisgah changes location of Tuscola rivalry game” reported that Pisgah Principal Clint Conner said the school’s decision to move the game to Bethel was in an effort “to do what’s best for our kids and community.”
By just about everyone’s account, the move was a done deal.
However, it was also known Monday night by stakeholders that there would be a meeting the following day with county leaders, including the fire marshal, to determine not how the logistics of playing the game at Bethel would work but rather how feasible and safe it would be to even attempt it.
Some problems to overcome went beyond the obvious fact that Bethel Middle would only be able to seat a fraction of the fans that typically come out for the big game. Highway Patrol would have to do traffic control and the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office would have to do security, whereas the Waynesville Police Department would have taken care of that at Weatherby. Such efforts take a ton of planning and are specific to the venue.
Ultimately, following Tuesday’s meeting, Conner issued a statement.
“After working with emergency management services, the Pisgah versus Tuscola game will be played at CE Weatherby stadium due to safety concerns for the surrounding community,” the statement read. “The Pisgah Nation will continue to persevere, and as always, we will continue to advocate for our students. Go Bears!”
In a brief follow-up interview with The Smoky Mountain News, Conner reiterated that the prior effort to move the game was all about the kids.
“We felt like we wanted our kids to play at home in the future, so once we found out that was not going to happen, we wanted to make it as much of a homefield advantage as possible,” he said.
Conner admitted that there were safety concerns brought up during the Tuesday meeting that derailed the Bethel plan, although he wouldn’t elaborate.
Of the effort to move the game to Bethel Middle, Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell said it had been a “group decision.” However, he was quick to point out that at the end of the day, no matter where his players take to the field, they’ll be ready. And of course, both Chappell and Tuscola Head Coach Chris Brookshire noted that there’s still football to be played before Oct. 14.
“It has been no distraction,” Brookshire said in a text message to SMN. “Our kids are focused on East Henderson this week.”
“There is no distraction to our team,” Chappell said. “We still have a game we are playing in West Henderson, and we’ll be ready.”
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Will game be played on tv or internet atthe Pisgah Tuscola game? Also do you have to be present to win 50/50?