There will be plenty of stars on the baseball-turned-football field Friday night when John Curtis and Brother Martin play their Catholic League opener at Zephyr Field.
Brother Martin’s Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Tre Swilling and Curtis’ Garrett Wallow and Jay Curtis to name a few.
But before this one even kicks off Friday night, go ahead and give a game ball to Marks and Shaffer.
Chances are, you have no idea who Marks and Shaffer are.
Marks is the head groundskeeper for the New Orleans Zephyrs. Shaffer is his assistant.
Ever since the Zephyrs’ baseball season ended two weeks ago, Marks and Shaffer have been busy transforming a diamond into a gridiron.
They still have a few finishing touchdowns to take care of before Friday’s nationally televised game between the Patriots, ranked No. 2 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 for Large Schools, and the No. 5 Crusaders.
It’ll be the first football game played at Zephyr Field, the first of eight games on the schedule for this season.
Cookie Rojas, general manager of the Zephyrs, was pleased with what he saw as he glanced at the field Wednesday.
“This is what I wanted to see,” Rojas said. “I wanted the kids to have a legit experience. We are going to do it right and make it a memorable experience for the kids.”
And boy should this be memorable.
Player introductions will be shown on the video board, similar to what you see when watching Monday Night Football.
There will be a fireworks show afterwards.
And the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
And Rojas has a few other pregame surprises that he wasn’t willing to divulge yet.
For the fans, it will be different.
The John Curtis band will be in the bleachers down the third base line in left field. The Brother Martin band will be along the first base line.
Another set of portable bleachers now sit in the outfield, right behind what will be the Brother Martin sideline.
The pitcher’s mound (minus the elevated mound) is close to the 15-yard line.
And the dirt infield makes up a good portion of one half of the field along the home side (Brother Martin) of the field.
For those of you old enough to remember watching NFL football games played in multi-purpose stadiums like the Oakland Coliseum, seeing an infield right in the middle of the football field will be nothing new for you.
But it’s totally new for David Sachs, director of media relations for the Zephyrs. Sachs has worked with minor league baseball for the past 10 years.
“I’ve never worked a football game in my life, at any level,” he said. “For the Zephyrs, we don’t even have to think about scripting out in-game stuff. But for this we are at square one because nobody has ever done it.”
So Sachs and Zephyrs officials have been busy talking with officials at Curtis and Brother Martin working out the kinks, learning everything they need to know about what happens on Friday night. They’ve gone over all the details, learning about everything from when the band plays to the exact time of the coin toss to where the assistant coaches will sit in the pressbox.
“It’s a neat deal,” Patriots coach J.T. Curtis said. “Anytime you can be part of anything history-making, it’s exciting. It’ll be a unique experience.”
Rojas hopes it’s not unique for long.
He’d like to see other events, like the LHSAA state baseball championship and more college baseball games, held at the ballpark.
“This place should be used for more than 72 nights a week for (minor league) baseball,” he said. “We don’t want this to be a one and done. We want it to be an annual thing.”