By D. Mark Mitchell
Sports Editor

We are in the middle of the slowest time of the year for high school sports. Public schools can only play four play dates during the summer months.

It is not, however, a slow time on the campus of Opelika High School … construction crews are working long hours to renovate OHS and Bulldog Stadium.

Phase One, the construction of the new wing on the northeast side of the school is almost complete. Crews are finishing the inside of the wing and furniture will be moved into this area soon. The new addition will be open for the 2013-14 school year.

The renovations and new construction at Bulldog stadium are ongoing. According to Dr. Mark D. Neighbors, superintendent of the Opelika School System, the new athletic facility and stadium will be ready for the upcoming season.

The stadium is almost ready. Workers have to install aluminum bleachers on top of the concrete on the home side. The guard rails between the field and stands are being installed now.

The old field house is being renovated for the visiting teams and we are adding a concession stand that will connect to the field house. This is the same area where a portable stand was formerly located. Concrete has been poured inside the stadium so it will be easier and better to move around. There is a new entrance to the stadium which has a new ticket office as well as new restrooms and a concession stand.

The “Dawg Walk” is the area you walk on when entering the stadium. Concrete and bricks are combined to make the entrance unique. The bricks can be purchased for $100 apiece and can be personalized. The first group of personalized bricks have been installed. The school will continue to sell the bricks until they are all gone. You can order your personalized brick by going to Look for “Dawg Walk” or Brick Pavers As you design your brick the site will allow you to see it. You can also order your brick by going by the central office and filling out a form and paying with cash or check.

A new parking lot will has been added by the new athletic facility. This lot will be used by coaches and guests. The outside of the athletic facility is almost complete. Workers are now concentrating on the inside of the building. The indoor turf is being installed this week. The offices, dressing room, meeting rooms, training room, equipment room, elevator and other areas are getting their finishing touches by workers. The last phase will be installing furniture, weights, equipment etc.

OHS head Coach and Athletic Director Brian Blackmon told me in an interview on my radio show “On The Mark” that he expects to be in the stadium after the fourth of July break. The move would allow the existing athletic facility to be renovated for the female athletes.

Everyone can see part of Phase Two because it involves the old P.E. area located in the front of the school. This area is being demolished to get ready for new construction. The other part of Phase Two, the area behind the OPAC where the front office and the original class rooms are located, has been demolished and is also ready for construction. The entrance to the school is also getting a face lift.

I am proud of what we are doing to OHS! This is something that has been needed for a long time. Opelika will be a better place because of the renovations. New families and industries look at schools, recreation facilities, churches, the commitment of city government and quality of life.

When the high school is finished, Opelika will have the total package.

Go Dawgs!

Back to the Dawg House

The ninth annual “Back to the Dawg House” football camp will be held on Saturday, June 29, at 9 a.m. at the Sportsplex. OHS alumni SaJason Finley and Will Herring are the co-founders of the camp. The four-hour camp is free for any child going into the third grade through seventh grade.

You can register at the Opelika Sportsplex. It is best to pre-register; this will insure your child receives a camp T-shirt and lunch. You can register the day of the event from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. but the T-shirt will not be guaranteed.

The camp will teach kids more than just football. The staff are all good Christian people who graduated from OHS. These men will go over offense and defensive drills. Campers will learn about respect, integrity, commitment, how to be a good person and other life lessons that young people need to know. There will be a guest speaker from The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at lunch time. This will be a great and safe time for any young person. The camp will return to Bulldog Stadium next year.

Dixie All-Stars

The Opelika Dixie baseball and softball all-star season has started. Opelika Dixie Youth Minor league team won their Sub-District Tuesday night by beating Smiths Station 12-11 in the championship game.

The 7-8 year olds, machine pitch league, have two All-Star teams. The 11-12 year old Dixie Ozone All-Stars will play in the District Tournament next Monday, June 26, in Auburn.

Opelika Dixie Boys will start Sub-District play next on June 27. The 13 year olds (Junior Dixie Boys) will play in Auburn at the old Duck Samford Park in a round robin tournament on June 27. The Dixie Boys (14 year olds) will start their sub-district on June 27 at Harrelson Field at West Ridge.

We will have pictures of all of our all-star teams in the next few weeks.