San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 5th, 2009
Lightning shorts Rattlers in Bastrop stadium opener

Bastrop head coach Gerald Perry, left, and San Marcos head coach Steve Van Nest, right, after deciding they would not make up Friday night’s football game, which was stopped because of lightning in the area. Photos by Andy Sevilla.

Executive Editor

BASTROP — A brand new $6 million high school football stadium outside of Bastrop got off to an inauspicious start under bad conditions Friday night, when lightning took away its first game 4:52 before halftime.

The San Marcos Rattlers, down 10-7, faced fourth and one at their own 29 when referee Howard Seitzman informed San Marcos head coach Steve Van Nest and Bastrop head coach Gerald Perry about the severity of lightning in the area. Van Nest and Perry determined that the near-by presence of lightning merited a mandatory 30-minute delay. That was at 8:31 p.m.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m., Van Nest and Perry closed the door to a press box suite and decided they would call the game and not make it up. Thus, the game goes down as no result. Rather than climb on a bus early Saturday morning and head back out to Bastrop to finish the game, the Rattlers will get on with their lives, which now are pointed to their home opener next Friday night at Bobcat Stadium against Lampasas (7:30 p.m.).

“It’s unfortunate that this happens, but with a non-district game, we’re not going to make it up,” Van Nest said. “We have a young team and we wanted to get 48 minutes of football in. At the same time, you don’t want to push yourselves back when you’ve got another game to get ready for next week.”

The evening began with an endless procession of hortatory speeches and solemn observances guided by Bastrop officials to christen Bastrop Memorial Stadium, the new football home for Bastrop High School and a brand new Cedar Creek High School. Cedar Creek will begin varsity football in 2012.

“I think with all the hype, the big crowd and the ceremonies, my players might have been gassed before the game started,” Perry said.

The evening ended with the 8,000-seat stadium exposing its flaws regarding traffic flow, infrastructure and event management, to the bemusement of many Bastrop locals who lamented the school district’s decision to build such a high-density venue on heavily traveled, two-lane SH 21 simply because the land was donated.

The stadium stands emptied by 8:45 p.m., when sheets of rain poured into Bastrop and fans hurried to their cars. But it was another two hours before bumper-to-bumper outflow in the stadium parking lot finally dissipated.

By then, the Bastrop High School band still couldn’t leave, as its buses were directed to an alternate exit, only to find the gates locked.

The San Marcos marching band, which had flowed towards the field with less than five minutes left in the first half so it could begin its halftime show, filed to its buses as the football players cleared the field. But those buses stood still for more than an hour. When the band members were allowed off the buses to go to the bathrooms, which were on the other side of the stadium, the kids scampered through rain only to find those restrooms locked.

The San Marcos band and player buses finally started moving when Van Nest prevailed upon stadium officials for action. The San Marcos band members returned home at about 11 p.m.

Later, the stadium elevator broke down from over-use. But the stadium’s “Trophy Turf,” the first such surface at a high school football stadium, drained instantly, a far cry from the mud puddles known to form at the Bears’ old home at Erhard Field.

Both teams moved the ball so well during 19 minutes of game action that it seemed only penalties and turnovers could stop them. And penalties and turnovers did, indeed, stop them.

The Rattlers moved to two first downs off the opening kickoff before fumbling away to Bastrop on their 47. Bastrop promptly blew its first snap, which flew over the head of quarterback Josiah Monroe. But Monroe picked up the ball and found Auston Shipley open at the 35. Shipley easily ran free to the end zone, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead.

San Marcos moved from its own 15 to the Bastrop six after the next kick, with a 52-yard carry by Michael Wilburn putting the ball on the Bastrop one. But the San Marcos offense broke down, first taking a five-yard illegal procedure penalty before Terrance Wilburn fumbled and Colton Tucker recovered for Bastrop at the two.

Bastrop went right back down field, all the way to the San Marcos 41 before Monroe’s fourth-down quick kick started the Rattlers at their own 23. The Rattlers bettered their field position by 20 yards before attempting a punt, which Bastrop blocked and ran down to the San Marcos six.

But Bastrop took two straight penalties, pushing itself back to the 21. Then, a snap got away from Bastrop back-up quarterback Nick Gosnell and San Marcos linebacker Jeremy Gonzalez recovered, going 55 yards for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7, early in the second quarter.

Taking over at its own 24 after the ensuing kickoff, Bastrop moved all the way to the San Marcos 18 before Lee McMillan hit a 35-yard field goal with 6:41 left in the half, giving Bastrop a 10-7 lead. After the next kickoff, he Rattlers were about to face a decision at fourth-and-one from their own 29 when the coaches for both teams decided to clear the field.

“I think we got here ready to play,” Van Nest said.

And when lightning put an end to it, the Rattlers were ready to get ready for the next one.

Rain came down in sheets on the opening night of Bastrop Memorial Stadium.

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