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The football teams at Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools have revamped their schedules for the coming season as delays in construction projects to modernize their playing facilities have hit delays.

Nipomo's original home opener against Cabrillo High School, scheduled for Friday, Aug. 30, has been moved to San Luis Obispo High School. Nipomo starts the season at Santa Ynez on Aug. 23.

The changes affect both the varsity and junior varsity games. 

Nipomo coach Tony Dodge said Lucia Mar School District superintendent Andy Stenson told the team of the changes at Tuesday's practice. 

"The superintendent came by and delivered the news to the team himself and that was classy of them," Dodge said. "We've moved the Cabrillo game to San Luis. It's a neutral site but it’s our home game. That’s the only one that we should have to move."

The Titans should open their home slate against Bishop Diego on Sept. 13.

Arroyo Grande's schedule has been hit even harder by construction delays. Eagles coach Mike Hartman says the team was forced to reschedule four home games.

Hartman said the age of Doug Hitchen Stadium has caused the upgrades to take longer than expected.

Hartman hopes his Eagles will finally play their first home game in their league opener against Paso Robles on Oct. 11.

"Something we teach the kids is that there are things you can control and things you can’t," Hartman said by phone Tuesday afternoon. "The more you worry about things you can’t control, the more energy is wasted. It's a chance for us to put our money where our mouths are and show we can deal with adversity. We have to prove it to our community and our fans that we can overcome this. I'm not super happy about it and our seniors aren't either.

"But it won’t affect our preparation and it won’t affect how we play."

The construction projects at several campuses in the Lucia Mar Unified School District were extended into summer as contractors worked to complete the second phase of a district-wide modernization plan financed by the multimillion-dollar bond measure voters approved in November 2016.

Measure I is a general obligation bond that established up to $170 million in capacity for renovation and modernization projects. The measure includes new facilities and updated fixtures across the 18-campus school district.

"We are disappointed to share that there have been a series of delays outside the district’s control," the district's assistant superintendent, Jim Empey, said in a statement regarding the Nipomo High stadium project.

Empey says the agency responsible for permitting of California public school construction, the Division of State Architect (DSA), has not completed the review process on the Nipomo High stadium project.

"Having submitted the plans back in October 2018, and based on prior experience, we were hopeful we would receive DSA-approved plans in time to have the stadium completed before June 2019," Empey said in the statement. "This was not the case and after many months, the project is moving slower than expected."

At Nipomo High, the football field improvements include new bleachers on the west side of the stadium; an all-weather track to be used by students, athletes and the public; new sod, subsoil and improved drainage; a press box behind the home bleachers; a new restroom and ticketing booth and concrete sidewalks surrounding all sides of the stadium to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

The Eagles' scheduled home opener against San Luis Obispo has been changed to a road game hosted by the Tigers on Friday, Aug. 23. The Eagles will then host San Luis Obispo in official home games the following two seasons.

Hartman says his team's Friday, Aug. 30 game against Bakersfield Centennial will be held at Pioneer Valley High School, as will the Sept. 13 game against Lompoc. Arroyo Grande will be the designated home team in those two games.

As of now, the Eagles are scheduled to host Fresno Bullard on Sept. 27 at Nipomo High, assuming that the Titans' facilities improvements are completed by then. The Titans and Eagles are also scheduled to face each other at Nipomo High on Sept. 20.

Empey said the district is looking into providing free rooter buses to transport students and adults to the relocated varsity home games. Temporary bleachers will be utilized on the visitor’s side until the new bleachers are approved and installed at Nipomo High, he added.

Hartman said area schools have helped make the process of shuffling home games an easy one.

"Everyone has been super accommodating," he said. "Stephen Field, our athletic director, and our administration, have been talking to the other schools and they've basically said, 'If there's anything you need, let us know.' We really appreciate that."

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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