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Claysburg on road again for ’22 season

H.S. football

Claysburg-Kimmel’s high school football program was forced to play all of its games outside of town in 2021.

During that time, it was expected that ground would break on the Bulldogs’ new sports complex. But as the 2022 season approaches, the complex has yet to begin construction, and Claysburg-Kimmel has made arrangements to be without a home stadium once again.

“There have been a multitude of factors,” Claysburg-Kimmel athletic director Brian Helsel said. “Initially, it was the permit from the state. They kicked it back once or twice, and we had to resubmit it. That’s all done through an engineering firm.”

Since that point, more issues have surfaced.

“The latest issue is that we had to do a land merger with Greenfield Township,” Helsel said. “They own a piece of the land where the runoff would be, and we have to basically make it all one deed. That’s what we’re waiting on now. Part of the challenge is that it’s hard to get people behind the scenes together, because everyone is so behind and busy from COVID. Things just haven’t returned to normal, and it’s extremely frustrating.”

Hollidaysburg’s Tiger Stadium will be Claysburg’s de facto home field again, and the Bulldogs will be playing two Thursday games there due to the Golden Tigers being home on Friday night. Both times the Bulldogs play on Thursday, their previous game will fall on a Saturday, leaving just four full days between games.

“There are things we just don’t have control over,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Matt Bilchak said. “We talked about it as a team. We can only control the things we can control and worry about the things we can worry about. When it comes to things out of our control, we can’t worry about it. It gets done when it gets done. There’s so many moving parts that we just don’t have a hand in.”

In all, the Bulldogs will play six games at Tiger Stadium, against Everett, Conemaugh Township, Moshannon Valley, Northern Bedford, Glendale and against a Heritage Conference opponent to be determined.

“It’s nice to help a neighboring school,” Hollidaysburg athletic director Homer DeLattre said. “During COVID, there were restrictions with attendance, and we helped out with Williamsburg and Central and different things like that. We helped Claysburg with varsity and junior high games last year. It looks like they are going to have junior varsity this year, too. It’s nice to help those in need and the local programs in no matter what sport it is.”

Claysburg-Kimmel made the District 6 Class 1A playoffs last season despite not playing any home games, and Bilchak said the team will not use it as an excuse in 2022.

“The standards and the expectations of the team don’t change regardless of where we’re playing,” Bilchak said. “Obviously, it would be nice to play at home, but we can only deal with what we have in front of us.”

Bilchak said he’s had a lot of people ask him about the status of the stadium.

“I really don’t know all the ins and outs about what’s going on, because that’s stuff that’s being handled more at the administrative level,” Bilchak said. “There are ongoing discussions with them and the township. Every now and then, I poke my head in and ask, and they say we are making progress. They are getting closer to breaking ground.”

For Hollidaysburg, it’s an opportunity to help some of its own scholastic programs.

“Our workers can get some extra work in, and it’s nice to use our facilities,” DeLattre said. “Our band will make out with sales from the concession stand and things like that.”

Bilchak hopes Claysburg-Kimmel can return the favor someday.

“It’s awesome they are willing to support us and that we have the type of relationship with the community that they are willing to help us out,” Bilchak said. “Hopefully, if they come into a situation where they are needing to have a different place to play, when we have everything finished in the future, we would be able to support their needs as well.”

As for when Claysburg will be hosting games in town again, there’s still some hope it could happen at the end of this season.

“There’s still a small chance, it sounds crazy, but there’s still a chance that we can make this happen for the end of the year,” Helsel said. “But again, as each day goes by, that chance gets smaller and smaller.”

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