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Football team gets wet to get ready
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Many years ago an outdoor swimming pool was part of the Baker High School complex near Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
Today, that space is the location of the BHS agriculture class green house between the main high school parking lot and the faculty parking lot.
But, Thursday, the Baker football team attempted to construct a new "pool" just north of the old site on the team's practice field.
Baker coach Dave Johnson said he wanted to simulate possible wet, soggy playing conditions when the Bulldogs open the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 3A state football playoffs at Tillamook Saturday.
Johnson knows the long-range weather forecast calls for rain throughout the weekend.
"I'd guess Tillamook will get four to five inches of rain by game time Saturday," Johnson said.
To that end, the Baker coach wants his team to be prepared for the worst weather.
No, he didn't issue swim trunks, flippers or water wings, but Johnson did request water, and lots of it.
With the assistance of a Baker Fire Department engine, more than 8,000 gallons of water was sprayed on the playing surface, and, for a while, on the Bulldogs.
More than two truckloads of water were dumped on the field to "simulate what would happen with a pouring rain," Johnson said.
"Compared to what we'll probably be playing on, this is like astroturf," Johnson said, referring to the stadium grass the Bulldogs use for practice and games.
The team warmed up in the stadium Thursday. Then, after the fire department crew sprayed the field, the Bulldogs moved on to the practice field.
But, wait. Yes, the turf was soggier than before. And, yes, the dark clouds of an approaching storm were rolling into Baker Valley.
But, Johnson still didn't see the total effect of a rain storm that he wanted.
So, after filling up at a hydrant near the BHS shop building, back came the fire engine.
This time water was sprayed into the air over the practicing players, simulating a sometimes heavy rain.
To make things even more interesting, the Bulldogs practiced with rubber footballs that had been soaked in a bucket of water.
"We want to be as prepared as we can," Johnson said.
"We're ready to slug it out with them. But, hopefully, it won't come to that."
Johnson said the Bulldogs leave Friday on the road to Tillamook.
The team will make one stop between Baker and The Dalles, then eat lunch at The Dalles.
The team will practice this evening at Portland, then travel on to Tillamook.
Kickoff Saturday is at 1 p.m.
"We're healthy and hungry," Johnson said.