Heidelberg to see more blue this football season

Calvert football fans will need to check their schedules this year for home games.

The Senecas, who normally play home games at Frost-Kalnow Stadium, hope to play two games at Heidelberg University’s Hoernemann Stadium.

One game is set — the Senecas host Gibsonburg there Sept. 20.

The other game, an Oct. 18 date, is still up in the air.

That’s because Sandusky Bay Conference River Division foe Sandusky St. Mary, which was scheduled to play Calvert on that date, announced earlier this week that it will play eight-man football this year due to low numbers.

While trying to fill a suddenly open date was unexpected, moving two games to Heidelberg was the plan all along.

Frost-Kalnow is owned by Tiffin City Schools and is also home to Columbian High and Tiffin University.

When Columbian and Calvert each have a home game scheduled on the same weekend, Calvert normally plays its game on Saturday night while Columbian plays on Friday.

However, Calvert Athletic Director Paul Shoemaker said the school has noticed that Saturday night attendance tends to be less than Friday night attendance, so school officials decided to have a trial run this year to see if a change of venue for a Friday game helps.

“I want it to be known that this is nothing between Calvert and Columbian. We have a great relationship with Columbian. It’s more about us trying to find a way to increase our gate,” Shoemaker said.

“On Saturday nights, we’ve lost some attendance with Ohio State playing at 8 o’clock, Michigan playing at 8 o’clock, Notre Dame playing at 8 o’clock. See if this helps our attendance or not,” he said.

Heidelberg Athletic Director Matt Palm said he and Shoemaker began talking a couple years ago about Calvert using Heidelberg facilities for events.

Palm said that’s something Heidelberg is always open to doing, and the Senecas even took advantage of that last year.

“We have hosted multiple high school events at many facilities, and that part of it’s great for us because we get prospective students and families on our campus to see our facilities and get a chance to see Heidelberg at the same time they get to compete on college facilities,” Palm said.

“Last year (Calvert) did their preview game (at Heidelberg) and I think they enjoyed that experience, so we continue to work with Paul (Shoemaker) and coach (Steve) Reser and it just worked out there are going to be a couple times they’re going to be able to play at our place,” he said.

Fans will notice a cozy setting at Hoernemann Stadium, with the only seating being located on the home side.

However, neither Shoemaker nor Palm think that will be a problem.

“Every Saturday they’re at home, they have fans on the same side and they don’t have an issue with it,” Shoemaker said. “It’s going to be one of those things, one of those trial and error things and see how it goes as far as capacity and that kind of stuff.

“They let people stand on the track. They do it for their games and they’ve assured us that we can do that for our games,” he said. “We’ll rope it off and see what happens.”

Palm said allowing fans on the track and behind the end zones have proven quite popular with the college crowd and he thinks high school fans will also enjoy it.

“We’ve done that for our home football games and it’s created, really, for us, and I think it will for Calvert as well, a really unique game-day atmosphere because a lot of the students go down to the end zone and they’re closer to the game,” he said.

“A lot of games you go to, especially at the high school and the collegiate level, it’s more of a sterile environment because you’re so far away from the field,” Palm said. “But with the atmosphere we’ve created, people can go down pretty close to the field and feel like they’re more a part of the game.”

Of course, the fans in the stands will also be close to one another, and not necessarily with those cheering for the same team

But Palm said that shouldn’t be a problem.

“Fans are going to have to interact with each other, but I guess if on Sundays, Browns fans can sit next to Steelers fans, I would hope high school parents can sit together and get along and enjoy a high school event and support the teams in a proper manner,” Palm said.