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Today
Regional finals
Class 6A
Carmel at Carroll, 7 p.m.
Sectional finals
Class 5A
Snider at North Side, 7 p.m.
Class 4A
East Noble vs. Bishop Dwenger at Saint Francis, 7 p.m.
Norwell at New Haven, 7 p.m.
Class 3A
Bishop Luers at Concordia, 7 p.m.
Class 2A
Bremen at Woodlan, 7:30 p.m.
Class A
South Adams at Southwood, 7 p.m.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Bishop Dwenger will be the home team tonight when the Saints play East Noble at Saint Francis.

Saint Francis welcomes Bishop Dwenger, East Noble

– Saint Francis will get its chance to show off Bishop D’Arcy Stadium to a whole new audience tonight when East Noble and Bishop Dwenger play a Class 4A sectional finals game.

The stadium has had its share of upgrades over the years, including a new building on the south side that houses a locker room, training center and additional seating; lights; and the almost decade-old turf playing surface. Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger have played their annual scrimmage there for a few years.

“When we got our lights in, part of the opportunity that afforded us was to host some high school football games,” Saint Francis athletic director Mike McCaffrey said. “Mostly, we looked at sectionals this time of the year. We are not interested in having a bunch of regular-season games over here, given our current schedules with football and soccer and all the other people who are using our stadium.

“Once the high school season got to sectionals; … we know here in Fort Wayne there have been issues with scheduling and people who share facilities. So we felt there might be an opportunity for us to host one year, but we were not sure. This year, it seemed to work out, and Bishop Dwenger reached out to us and asked us if our field was available and fortunately it was.

“Anytime we can get 4,000 people on our campus to enjoy our facility or enjoy an event on our campus, it’s a good thing. It just so happens that the timing works that we have a new facility that we are going to show off as well. Really it is just allowing a friend of ours in the diocese an opportunity to take advantage of our facility.”

Dwenger and Concordia share Zollner Stadium across the street from Concordia, and both teams are playing host to sectional finals with the Cadets playing Bishop Luers in a 3A matchup. When previous scheduling conflicts occurred, one of the games would be moved to Saturday. But with Saint Francis’ stadium available, the Saints’ playoff game will be played tonight.

It doesn’t mean more high school football games will be at Saint Francis.

“Not particularly,” McCaffrey said when asked of more prep games being played at Saint Francis. “(Luers and Dwenger) probably like playing at their home fields. When Dwenger plays at Zollner, they probably have more capacity there than we do here at our place. This will be a test for us, honestly, on whether we can hold this kind of crowd. I would anticipate a pretty good crowd.”

McCaffrey called the game a trial run at getting a decent-sized crowd into the stadium. He said the seating capacity is 3,500. More than that would be a standing-room-only situation.

“We will see if that works,” he said. “If that gets to be a logistical nightmare, we might not be able to be in this type of game. We will give it a test run Friday.”

One interesting aspect of playing at Saint Francis is the turf. Dwenger has experience playing on the surface through the years of playing the scrimmage there, and East Noble plays its home games on a similar turf surface at its Kendallville school. It probably won’t be an advantage for either of the teams, and McCaffrey said the surface is often not even noticeable to players.

The field comes in handy more when it comes to the consistency of the surface in terms of always being available to use for different sports and events.

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email gjones@jg.net; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.

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