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VND notebook: Freeport preps for final year in stadium

| Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, 10:00 p.m.
Valley High School's D'Aundre Johnson runs drills at practice on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Valley High School's D'Aundre Johnson runs drills at practice on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015.

Freeport football plans to usher in the future while honoring the past.

The school is planning several events for its final season at venerable James Swartz Memorial Field before a $4.48 million stadium with artificial turf is built at the high school campus.

The new stadium is set to open in 2016.

The first event will be Wednesday, when the football team will welcome former players and coaches to Swartz for a group picture beginning at 6 p.m. Gates open at 5:45.

It's a special twist to the team's annual Meet the Players Night.

A youth punt, pass and kick contest for children in grades 1-8 will begin around 6:30, and the younger players can go through drill stations with Freeport varsity players after the contest. The night's finale will be a varsity practice under the lights.

The Yellowjackets' first home game of the season is Sept. 11 against Summit Academy. That officially will be called “Alumni Night.” Freeport first-year athletic director Shawn Stivenson said former players and coaches will be on the field during pregame, listen in on Freeport's pregame speech and witness the coin toss at midfield.

Freeport has been playing home games at Swartz or, “the borough field,” since 1940.

“Freeport has had some phenomenal players play on that field,” Stivenson said. “And we've had some major crowds. I know when I played, we went out during the playoffs for warmups and the crowd would erupt. You're talking 3,000 to 4,000 people.”

Freeport's final regular season home game will be Oct. 16 against Deer Lakes.

Best of the Batch

Add a third local player to the 4th annual Champs Sports Network “Best of the Batch” preseason team that will be honored during Sunday's Steelers-Packers preseason game at Heinz Field.

Valley senior wide receiver/defensive back D'Aundre Johnson will be recognized, along with Freeport standout tight end/defensive linemen/linebacker Logan Thimons, and Plum kicker Jake Chapla.

The team was put together by Champs Sports Network and The Best of the Batch Foundation youth sports charity, led by former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch.

Golf sites out

The WPIAL released sites for the golf individual and team postseason.

The boys Class AA individual championship is Oct. 1 at Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley, and the Class AAA tournamnent is Oct. 8 at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg. The girls Class AAA and AA finals is Oct. 6 at Rolling Hills Country Club in McMurray.

Boys' individual semifinals will be Sept. 28 at Butler's Golf Course and Sept. 29 at The Links at Spring Church.

A few local courses are among the 23 host sites for sectional tournaments. The boys' Section 4-AAA tournament is Sept. 21 at Willowbrook Country Club in Allegheny Township, Section 8-AAA will be at Fox Chapel Golf Club, Section 1-AA and 3-AA will be at Lenape Heights Golf Resort in Ford City and girls' Section 4-AAA is at Pittsburgh Field Club in Fox Chapel. Boys team semifinals will be played Oct. 13 at River Forest Country Club in Allegheny Township and three other sites. The team finals, as usual, will be Oct. 15 at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver.

Burrell tennis coach-less

WPIAL girls tennis season opens Monday and Burrell might be without a coach. Bucs athletic director Aaron Frech said the district and second-year coach Rick Feroce agreed to part ways and open the position. The job was to be advertised in-house last week.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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