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Local News

Hancock College Football Finds the End Zone — But Now It’ll Be on Its Own Campus

At long last, Bulldogs to play home games beginning in the fall, with temporary bleachers, press platform and a scoreboard to be installed over the summer

From left, Hancock College football coach Kris Dutra, athletic director Kim Ensing, Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers and Bulldog Boosters’ Jim Glines gather to announce plans to play footballs at the Santa Maria campus, beginning in September. Click to view larger
From left, Hancock College football coach Kris Dutra, athletic director Kim Ensing, Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers and Bulldog Boosters’ Jim Glines gather to announce plans to play footballs at the Santa Maria campus, beginning in September. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After crosstown trips to play at other stadiums, the Allan Hancock College Bulldogs football team truly will have home-field advantage when the Santa Maria campus hosts games this fall.

“We’re here today to announce that Allan Hancock College, for the first time we think it in its history, is going to host home football games on the college campus, rather than having to rent a facility somewhere else in Santa Maria,” Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said last week.

Plans call for installing temporary bleachers, a scoreboard, a press box and other features in the coming months to allow the Bulldogs to host home football games during the 2015 season.

“This is a great day indeed for Hancock and there’s too many thank yous to go around,” Jim Glines of the Hancock Boosters said Wednesday.

The boosters this year will manage the 14th fundraiser to benefit Hancock sports after initially launching the annual dinner-auction to renovate the gym and name it after Joe White, the longtime athletic director. Once the original project was completed, proceeds from subsequent fundraisers have paid for the upgrades of equipment along with baseball, softball and soccer fields.

“What an opportunity to have home football games here on the campus of Hancock College and really take advantage of home field advantage,” Glines said.

The Bulldogs will host five home games during the 2015 season, beginning with the Sept. 5 season opener against Santa Ana. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m.

Athletic Director Kim Ensing noted the support of administration, staff, and the Bulldog Boosters in making the home games possible.

“It was a team effort,” said Ensing, listing off new track and field facilities and the new baseball field on campus. “This has just been an exciting time to be a part of good things that are happening.

“We’re excited that our student athletes are going to have a place to play and a place to have a home-field advantage,” she added.

Football coach Kris Dutra, about to mark his 14th season as head coach, noted that Bulldog players and other coaches are excited about playing games on campus.

“Every football game has been an away game, obviously, since the school started, so this is a big deal for us,” he said. “It gives our players a more collegial feel about what they’re doing out there.

“We have a home. We’re not traveling to our home games, and I think there’s a sense of pride that comes with that.”

The games will take place at the college’s $2.3 million, state-of-the-art track facility that opened in January 2014. The project was made possible with funding from the $180 million Measure I, approved by voters in 2006. The City of Santa Maria also contributed funds for the track project.

Prior to this season, Hancock football played its home games at Righetti and Santa Maria high schools.

Renting those high school stadiums and transporting players and staff add up to approximately the same amount — approximately $20,000 — as acquiring the equipment to hold the games at home, school officials said.

Bleachers will be installed on the west side of the track in mid-August and can seat up to 1,250.

Arroyo Grande High School’s previously owned scoreboard will temporarily be used at Hancock.

Since the Hancock stadium doesn’t have lights, the games will be played in the afternoons.

Once the Measure I bond projects are completed, Walthers said leftover funds might go toward installing permanent bleachers. Donors also are being sought.

Ensing said the temporary approach will help show what the college needs for the permanent facility.

“It’s kind of like a nice baby step,” she said.

In addition to the games, the football team will host a scrimmage on its home field Aug. 22.

Spectators are urged to use parking lots 8 and 9, which are located near the track and accessible from South College Drive. Parking for home games will be free, college representatives say.

After Wednesday’s announcement, college officials celebrated the scholarship signing for linebacker Willie Iribarren. The Lompoc High School graduate signed with Humboldt State, an NCAA Division II program.

Iribarren was an all-conference first team pick and led the Bulldogs in tackles and tackles per game last season.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

An artist's rendering depicts the additions planned at Allan Hancock College’s track field prior to hosting home football games there this year. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
An artist's rendering depicts the additions planned at Allan Hancock College’s track field prior to hosting home football games there this year. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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