Instead of worrying about his program’s football stadium and practice field not being completed by the beginning of the 2017 season, Lancaster coach Bobby Collins is focusing on how nice the Bruins’ facilities will be once they are ready to use.
“We keep it positive because we’re fortunate,” he said Tuesday evening.
The Bruins will play their Friday season opener at nearby Buford High School, instead of Lancaster’s 50-year old Memorial Stadium. The old venue is getting a facelift, with artificial turf replacing natural grass, but the Field Turf company hasn’t finished the installation, which got a late start.
“It’s coming along, not as fast as any of us want, but it is coming along,” said Lancaster athletic director Mark Strickland. “Buford has saved us, allowing us to come out there and play. I can’t praise them guys enough. They have stepped up big time.”
Strickland said that, as of Wednesday, all of the playing surface is laid and the contractors are now installing the sidelines. Painting of lines, hashes and other marks on the field should begin later this week. Strickland has been told that Memorial Stadium will be ready to go before the Bruins’ second home game of the season, Sept. 8 against Chester.
Lancaster’s practice facility is also getting a makeover. The football team maintains the use of a building just uphill from the school’s campus that houses their weight room, locker room and coaches’ offices. But the practice field has been ripped up, graded and new natural grass is being laid down next week. New field goal posts will also be installed.
The Bruins are practicing at North Elementary School for now, but it’s possible they could practice there the entire season. Strickland pointed out that even if the turf is laid, Lancaster’s ability to use the field will depend on the time of year and the weather. No point in laying down turf then playing on it and destroying it before the grass roots can take hold.
“I’m not too worried about that, to be honest,” said Strickland. “I got some place I can practice.”
Once everything is finished the Bruins will have a top notch practice surface and can use Memorial Stadium’s artificial turf on days when it’s rainy so that the practice field doesn’t get destroyed in wet weather.
“I don’t think anybody will have a better set-up in the state,” Collins said.
In Collins’ view, playing a home game away from home on Friday shouldn’t impact the Bruins’ gate receipts, especially with Buford and Andrew Jackson’s football teams out of town.
“I’m excited about it, I’m hoping the whole county comes out to watch Lancaster go up against Indian Land,” said Collins. “It’s imperative for us to start the season off 1-0 so we want to have a great showing on defense, be good on special teams, not turn the football over on offense and try to build an identity.”