LAGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Two weeks ago, an act of vandalism put the Prairie Heights football team’s home schedule in jeopardy. After two weeks of work, and some cooperative weather, school leaders said Thursday they’ll be able to play home games this fall.
According to police, an SUV-like vehicle drove through parts of campus during in the early morning on July 23, causing as much as $10,000 in damages.
It was frustrating new for Prairie Heights Schools Superintendent, Jeff Reed. “It’s disheartening,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to worry about that type of stuff.”
Reed is in his first year as the district’s superintendent, and his eighth overall with the school district.
Damage was done to the school’s football field, the student-operated cornfield, the baseball field, and the practice football field. Reed said what made the situation more frustrating was the practice football field and the baseball were brand new, and students had never used them before they were damaged.
However, maintenance crews at the school didn’t wait to get to work. Two weeks later, a lot of the damage is no longer visible on the football field, and only a few traces of it still remain.
“They got on it right away to try to save all the parts that they could,” said Reed. “It looks a lot better than how we found it. We saved some of the big parts that were torn up, and we got water on those right away. We brought in new top dirt, reseeded it, and we already can see the new grass coming up.”
Prairie Heights hired Eric Heiney as the new football coach a week before the damage happened. Heiney said he talked to the team Monday, the first official day of practice, and told the team that the field would be ready. The team’s first home game is Friday, August 29, which is week two of the upcoming football season in Indiana.
“Each Friday night, you’re looking forward to a home game,” Jake Heller, the team’s senior quarterback, said. “You got the students and the fans, and it’s just a better atmosphere at your home field.”
Thursday was the fourth day of practice.
“First thought was just hoping we could play on this field for our first game,” Cassten Everidge, another one of Prairie Height’s eight seniors on this year’s team, said. “It sounds like with our maintenance crew working hard out here, playing is going to be possible. That’s exciting.”
Reed told NewsChannel 15 the games are well attended. The school sits along the countryside, but the nearby community uses the school’s sports events as a main source of entertainment.
“This is our community. This is what people do on Friday nights. They come out to the football games, so we’ll have games here,” said Reed.
Since the day of the vandalism, the school has locked the fields to help prevent future problems.
No charges have been filed. School leaders are still asking anyone with information about the case to contact police.