The defending Class C state champion Nokomis Regional High School football team will be a group of true road Warriors this fall.
As construction continues on a new combined junior high-high school across the road from the original Nokomis complex on the outskirts of Newport, the football field is a temporary casualty of the work and will be rebuilt for use beginning next year.
For the 2019 season, coach Jake Rogers’ club will play its four regular-season home games 20 miles down Interstate 95 at Keyes Field on the campus of Lawrence High School in Fairfield. Athletic administrators Mark Babin of Nokomis and Dave Packard of Lawrence reached an agreement on the arrangement.
“I’ve known Dave for a long time and Jake’s a former coach at Lawrence, so there’s a great familiarity,” Babin said. “The initial place we looked at and had an agreement with decided not to honor the agreement and changed their mind so we went to the next place down the road.”
Class B Lawrence and Nokomis had only one scheduling conflict where both teams are home on the same weekend, so Nokomis — which traditionally has played its home games Saturday afternoon — will play three of its four home games on Friday nights this season.
“It works out that they’re on the road most of the time when we’re home,” Babin said.
The lone exception for the Warriors will be a Week 7 game against Waterville that will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, following Lawrence’s 7 p.m. home game against Windham on Friday, Oct. 18.
Nokomis’ Friday games at Keyes Field are its Sept. 6 regular-season opener against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, an Oct. 4 matchup against Old Town and the Oct. 25 regular-season finale against John Bapst of Bangor. All three games will start at 7 p.m.
Lawrence’s other home games are against Skowhegan (Sept. 20), Brunswick (Sept. 27) and Brewer (Oct. 11).
“In the [Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference] I think all of us try to help each other out whenever we can,” said Packard, who resides within the Nokomis-based RSU 19. “It’s what’s best for the kids.”
Packard said the Nokomis games should not put additional strain on the natural turf at Keyes Field this fall.
“We used to have seventh- and eighth-grade games there, and now we only have one junior high team, so there’s four games we’ve taken off the field and now we’ve added the four (Nokomis) games, so it balances out that way,” he said.
“And we’ve had a good summer for growing grass. We’re not worried about dryness, we haven’t had to water the field and we’ve still got a good base of grass, so I don’t have any concerns right now.”
The Lawrence football boosters and music boosters will operate their concession booths during the Nokomis home games, Packard said, while Nokomis will pay a lump sum to be determined to help with the lights and preparing the field for game nights.
“Jake Rogers played here and coached here for a long time, so when he heard there was a chance to play at Lawrence he was quite excited about that,” Packard said.
While the Nokomis fall sports teams are able to practice on available fields at their school, Babin said, the Warriors’ field hockey team will play its home games at Nokomis, while soccer matches will be contested at Somerset Elementary School in Hartland.
The Warriors’ volleyball team will be able to play in the junior high gymnasium that has been built as part of the new complex, Babin said, while a high school gymnasium in the new school is scheduled to be ready in time for basketball season.