If or when high school football resumes in Oklahoma, Dennis Casey Field at Morrison High will look a bit different.
It won’t be anything too drastic, but the historic field that’s housed 14 state champion football teams during the past four decades is receiving a facelift.
For many reasons, Morrison football coach Cory Bales hopes the sport he loves returns to Friday nights this fall. One of the less obvious reasons is the work he and a few others, including Superintendent Brent Haken, have put into improving the facility.
“We have about four projects we’re doing out here at the football field,” Bales said. “We are repainting all of our bleachers, we’re building a new press box, repainting the goal post and all of that stuff that needs to get done.
“… It’s keeping us busy and giving us something to do. We’re just getting everything ready. We’re excited about hopefully getting to start.”
The most notable upgrade will likely be the new and improved press box. The west box that houses the game clock operator and the public address announcer, among others, has completely been gutted.
The wooden press box will be replaced with a metal one that is slightly larger.
“Basically, we’re redoing the whole thing,” Bales said. “We’re going to make it a little bigger, but there’s not a whole lot of room to go in between the bleachers. We’ll at least have a new face on it and make it look good.”
Bales said the press box was the original – with a few improvements made to it over the years – since the early ’80s.
“It’s in the original spot and everything,” Bales said. “It’s had a new roof once and some new flooring, but it’s the original one that was up there before we built the two side bleachers on and added the three booths up there and added the walkway up top.
“It’s going to look quite a bit different. We’re not going to make it that much bigger, but we’re not going to come back in with wood. It’s going to have a steel frame and new windows and a new roof.”
Bales said this project has been long overdue, but it will be happening soon, most likely after the bleachers are completely painted. The home bleachers are being painted black again, but the paint needed touched up.
He said they are usually painted every 3-4 years. The bleachers are almost done being painted, but this week’s forecast of wet weather has thrown a wrench in the plans to finish.
“We backed off today, because of the rain,” Bales said Monday. “Heck, I think it’s supposed to rain every day this week. If we could have one good day, we could get done painting and then move on to a different project.”
Other projects at the football field include a new scoreboard, a fresh coat of paint to the posts that hold up the scoreboard and a fresh coat of paint to the goal posts.
Another project will be improving the visitor’s locker room, which is the red building on the east end of the field – between the football and softball fields. Bales said the building has been gutted and they will add about an extra 25 feet to it, making it a multi-purpose facility.
When completed, the red building will be used for a football and softball visiting locker room, along with a wrestling practice room.
These projects didn’t require a bond issue. They were simply projects approved as they are needed.
“It’s not something we had a bond for,” Bales said. “It’s something we planned on doing and we had the money set up in a place for this to be done. We also redid the softball field, so we’re hitting different projects at a time. Of course, with the economy up in the air, you don’t know how much further these projects will go, but we’ve had a plan to do this one this year and another one the next year.”
Before the football field begun its renovation, Morrison also upgraded its softball field. A brick retaining wall, which also serves as the backstop, was installed. New netting and fences were also put in before the slow-pitch softball season was set to begin.
Morrison is the defending Class A state champ in fast-pitch softball, which many hope will also resume this fall. If so, the Lady Wildcats will have a new and improved home field.
“We were getting everything ready for the slow-pitch season,” Bales said. “We had everything done before the season would have started and then that got shut down. That will be ready to go for fast-pitch, if we get to play that, too. Who knows what’s going to happen.”
He just hopes the school year and sports return in August. If so, Morrison will have some upgraded facilities on display for fans.
“It’s really going to look nice,” Bales said. “I’m excited about it. With everything repainted, it’s going to look really, really nice. Hopefully, we can play this fall.”