Tuscaloosa County high schools begin new football on new turf

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 3:58 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Football season is going to feel a little different for a number of high schools this fall. A handful of schools got new turfs for their football fields, and in some cases for the first time!

Hillcrest, Tuscaloosa County High School, Northside and Sipsey Valley High School all got new turfs, which cost four million dollars overall. The overall cost? $4 million.

On August 19, Hillcrest High School offensive lineman Corryon Watson can’t wait to dig his hands in the dirt, or in this case the new turf. The turf is cushiony, sprinkled with small rubber pellets made from pulverized tires, spread out over 100 yards and then some.

“I love it. I’m excited. I’ve been playing on grass since I’ve been playing football but this is going to be beneficial to us,” said Watson.

“Just not having any maintenance,” said head coach Jamie Mitchell.

This is a dream come true for head coach Jamie Mitchell. Gone are the days of mowing the grass, year-round maintenance, which is a job that drained about $10,000 from his school budget every single year.

“Sprinkler head repair, fertilizer, you name it...it’s what we did,” said Coach Mitchell.

The Hillcrest High School Patriots begin their new season on a turf that cost six million dollars at one point.

“You know in four years in Arkansas I never played on a grass field. They were all turf fields and that’s becoming the norm across the southeastern part of the United States,” said Coach Mitchell.

“They got rid of the old scoreboards,” Watson noticed during our shoot on the new field.

A new field, new scoreboards and new goalposts. The newness of it all won’t fade anytime soon, certainly not before Friday night, according to Jamie Mitchell. Like a good coach, he’ll weave it all in as part of his pre-game pep talk, home-field advantage to start off the season under the lights.

“Our hope is our home turf, our home place will give us a little advantage,” said Coach Mitchell.

For Corryon Watson he’s eager to knock a few heads around on his new playground, all 6′2 of him, weighing in at 310 pounds.

“I’m excited...I’m anxious,” Watson said.

Showtime on the new turf is so close.

Tuscaloosa County school officials say the four million dollars used to pay for the new turfs is coming from a state bond issue, money that had to spent this year before the funds expired.

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