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NJ Football: Watchung Hills’ stadium lights are dark until mid

Jun 04, 2023

There will be no Friday night football at Watchung Hills High School this fall, at least until the last regular-season home game of the season, athletic director Derek England confirmed.

Tozier Field was scheduled to have its outdated lights replaced this summer. Those fixtures, by some estimates, have been in place since the 1990s or earlier. Now, after some contractor issues, the lights aren’t scheduled to be ready until Oct. 13, the day the Warriors are slated to play host to St. Joseph-Metuchen in Watchung Hills’ regular-season home finale.

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England said the issue was addressed at Tuesday night’s meeting of the board of education, which approved funding to replace the lights in April, and the order was placed on May 1.

“Early indications had our contractor delivering the products by August 1st, with an installation and completion by late August,” a statement read. “Late July we were notified by our contractor of a backorder issue with fixtures. The new delivery date became Sept. 13 with an installation of one month.

“Keep in mind that weather is a factor. We researched alternate approaches including temporary rental, but eventually settled on revising the schedule. It is regrettable but unfortunately supply chain issues in certain cases still exist.”

The Warriors are scheduled to open the 2023 football season Friday at home against Bayonne in a game that was always scheduled for 5 p.m., even before the lights became an issue, England said. Kickoff has since been moved up to 4:30 p.m. just to give the game a little extra cushion in case it goes long and it starts to get dark.

After Friday’s opener, Watchung Hills’ next home game is slated for Sept. 8 against North Hunterdon. Kickoff is now schedule for 3:30 p.m.

The Warriors also host Bridgewater-Raritan on Sept. 22 and Montgomery on Sept. 29. Start times have yet to be announced for those contests.

“My coaches and I will get the team ready to play anytime of the week,” Watchung Hills head coach Rich Seubert said. “I’m glad the school has realized how important it is to have games on a Friday night. It’s a community event with great energy. Hopefully everything gets figured out ASAP and we play some games under the lights. Until then we will adjust and move on. I look forward to seeing a big crowd this Friday at 4:30 p.m.”

Simeon Pincus has been covering NJ sports since 1997. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @SimeonPincus.