Messalonskee High School boys lacrosse players walk to the sidelines at halftime of a Class B state semifinal game against Marshwood on June 16 in Oakland. The Gardiner football team will use Messalonskee’s field for four home games this fall, as work on Hoch Field continues. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Gardiner football team has a home for this season.

The Tigers will play all four home regular season games this fall on Messalonskee’s turf field, the school announced on its Facebook athletics page Tuesday night. Gardiner had to find a temporary home because of delays in installing the new turf surface at Hoch Field, the last step of a project that began back in January.

The Tigers will play three Saturday night home games, on Sept. 4 against Old Town, Sept. 18 against Cape Elizabeth and Oct. 2 against Fryeburg. The fourth home game, against Westbrook, will be a Saturday afternoon game at 1 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Messalonskee athletic director Chad Foye, whose field will also host Cony until its turf surface is ready, said that Gardiner AD Nate Stubbert reached out to him about a potential contingency plan “a couple of weeks ago,” and that he was happy to help.

“We were able to figure it out,” he said. “Those guys, (Cony AD) Jon (Millett) and Nate would help any school, it’s just what we do. In the (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference), we work together and help each other solve problems. That’s kind of what I’ve seen since I’ve been an athletic director.”

Gardiner football coach Pat Munzing said he was happy to have the Tigers’ home field situation straightened out.

“It’s a big relief, knowing that it’s taken care of,” he said. “It’s just one less thing we have to worry about, for the kids to have to focus on. They’re not going to have to worry about it. We can just get to worrying about preseason and doing what we need to do to get ready for ourselves.”

Construction continues on the new playing field at Hoch Field in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Foye said he needed to check his teams’ calendars, but figured early on that fitting Gardiner in wouldn’t be too difficult.

“I had a pretty good idea it would (work), but I just wanted to confirm it and make sure we had space in our schedule and could do it and make it work for everybody,” he said.

Messalonskee’s field hockey and soccer teams also play on the turf surface, and Foye said he didn’t move their games in order to allow Cony or Gardiner football to have the field.

“Our teams take precedence over others,” Foye said. “All the Messalonskee games were put in, and then I was able to work in Cony and then, when Gardiner called, I was able to work them in as well.”

Munzing said playing on Saturdays will be different, and will change up the normal rhythm of the week.

“I think we’re going to have to figure it out,” he said. “We’ll have to kind of take it as an advantage when we can, and there are certainly disadvantages. But for things like scouting and whatnot, we’re going to be able to pre-plan ourselves. … I think it kind of brings a different kind of approach for us, in the way that we can structure our week. We can make it an advantage for ourselves.”

Munzing said with many of the Tigers’ opponents playing Friday nights, there will be more chances for in-person scouting.

“We’re going to have an opportunity to go see these teams and watch them play,” he said. “I think you’re going to get back to the older version of some scouting in our league, where it’s not just film, it’s going to be actually going and watching.”

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