The Southern Oregon University and Eastern Oregon football teams will take their Week 1 matchup to a neutral site this Saturday, meeting just southwest of Portland at Sherwood High School, officials announced Thursday morning. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
The 25th-ranked Raiders and No. 7 Mountaineers were originally slated to play their season- and Frontier Conference-opening game Thursday at Raider Stadium. Concerns arose over unhealthy air quality levels caused by area wildfires, prompting Tuesday's announcement of a postponement.
Like several local high school teams, SOU and EOU ultimately opted to take their show outside the Rogue Valley.
SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre explained: "What we know at this point is the fire in Brookings is still raging and there is still a better than average chance any game we schedule here could be smoked out. We had to make a decision at least two days in advance because of travel for both teams and the immense amount of effort that goes into producing a college football game, and we aren't in a position to play chicken with the smoke and the health of our student-athletes. We also know that we received an incredible offer from our friends at Sherwood High School, and head coach Greg Lawrence, to host this game. This presents us with our last, but guaranteed, opportunity to get the game in, and Sherwood's stadium is a top-notch facility. It will also be a great opportunity for our alums, families and recruits in the Portland area to see these two great Oregon teams play. Even if we end up driving to Sherwood under clear skies, it will be a great game, and in a lot of ways a showcase event for NAIA and Frontier Conference football in a big market."
All previously purchased SOU-EOU tickets will be valid, and tickets will be sold prior to the game at Sherwood High. Refunds are also available for all single-game tickets previously purchased online. Those wishing to be refunded should contact the SOU athletic office Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at 541-552-6772.
Saturday's forecast calls for temperatures up to 100 degrees in Sherwood, but the artificial-turf field is expected to be covered in shadows by game time and Sherwood High's Aaron J. Contreras Memorial Stadium has a covered, 2,000-seat grandstand.