Drive down Papa George Drive adjacent Memorial Stadium on the campus of South Lafourche High School and you may stop to look twice at the field.
There is no grass. The field is covered in dirt and work trucks are constantly moving materials throughout the day.
No, South Lafourche High School is not having a monster truck rally on its field, though that’s what it looks like to the naked eye with the dirt and materials piled throughout the land.
But the field – and the two other public high school football fields in Lafourche Parish – are getting renovations that will be in place for the 2018 season.
Field turf is coming to local public high schools with funding coming from an existing facility’s millage, which was renewed by the public late last year.
Work on all three fields is ongoing and, if blessed with continued warm, dry weather, the fields may be completed before the start of the 2018-19 school year in early August.
If delayed by rain, work may drag into the next school year, but is still scheduled to easily be completed before football begins in late-August and early September.
“They’re making really good progress,” South Lafourche High School Athletic Director Brian Callais said during a radio broadcast during a spring scrimmage. “They’re working hard. At first, they said maybe we could see it in the beginning of July, but now they’re saying that it might be closer to the middle of the month or a little later. I know a lot of people are excited. It’s something everyone is looking forward to in our athletic department.”
Local coaches say this is a long time coming for Lafourche Parish.
Central Lafourche football coach Keith Menard was one of the most outspoken champions for the field turf cause because his field has been depleted heavily in recent years.
Natural grass experts say that our natural grass surfaces were hosting sometimes two or three times more athletic events than they should each year to maintain healthy grass through the wear and tear.
The local fields host high school varsity football, junior varsity football, freshman football, soccer, track and field, band practices/festivals and also PE classes from general students throughout the year.
In addition to that, middle schools also use the fields for their sporting events, as well.
What happens is the fields take on water during August, September and October when the local climate is hot, humid and wet.
Because there are so many games scheduled in those months, players tear the grass down to mud and the natural grass never has time to heal.
Playing on such a barren surface makes players more prone to ankle/leg injuries because footing is less secure.
In a game between Thibodaux and Central Lafourche played years back on a muddy field, coaches estimated than more than 10 players left the game with ankle sprain and/or foot/leg injuries.
“It’s not safe,” Menard said. “Our fields just can’t keep up with what we’re asking of them. We need the carpet. It’s for our kids. They’re the ones who are suffering because of this more than anything. They deserve more. This benefits all sports.”
The turf should remedy a lot of issues of the past.
It will have under-ground drainage, which will stop ponding, which will allow for quicker resumption of play on wet days.
It also is hands-off.
Once it’s laid down, local coaches will not have to do anything to it except vacuum it occasionally. The machine for cleaning is included in the school board’s purchase – one for each school.
By not having to tend to the field, local schools say they will save thousands each year in maintenance expenses they used to have to incur like fuel for mowing, sod and chemicals to make the grass grow properly.
There also will be no more painting. Each school is getting a pre-designed field which will feature the team’s mascot prominently on midfield and the school’s name in the end zones.
“We think it’s a no-brainer,” Menard said. “We’re just happy the public gave us that support and now we can make it a reality.”
Posted on Fri, May 18, 2018
by Gazette Sports Report