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Golden Tiger turf takes root

In just a few weeks from start to finish, the Golden Tigers have a major upgrade for the upcoming football season: a state-of-the-art turf field.

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The turf is an asset, said Coach Mark Heaton, that will keep Russellville High right on the cutting edge, and “it’s more than just beneficial for football. I think it’s good for the entire school system and the community,” Heaton said. “One of the things I hope to do is to do some type of community celebration … This track and stadium are a focal point of the community. We’re excited about that, for the community have a nice, safe place that they can take pride in.”

When it comes to football, Heaton said the turf allows the Golden Tigers to “practice regardless of weather conditions” as well practice on whatever field matches the field the team will play on for away games. “When we’re playing a home game or away game that’s on turf, we’ll practice here. We still have our natural grass facility so that when we’re playing on the road and we’ll be on natural grass, we’ll practice on that that week so we’re accustomed to it,” Heaton said.

Heaton said the turf, created with technology that has only improved over time, is “as close to a regular field as you can get.”

“The length of the turf is just like the grass, and the pellets give it the feel of soft ground,” Heaton said. “It’s going to be safer, I think, for the kids” because it will provide adequate “give” underfoot – unlike natural sod that can become too hard-packed – but not too much give, as can be the case after too much rain.

The turf also allows the Marching Hundred band more access to the field, which features the permanent lining – no way to mess up the paint job – and lighting. Softball, baseball and ROTC can also make use of the new facility. “It’s a much larger project than just having a turf football field. It does so much for our community and our school,” Heaton said. “The Spirit of Excellence that we strive for in our school system as a whole – this is just another piece of that.”

Maintenance is also easier and more cost-effective long term for the turf, Heaton said.

Upcoming improvements include resurfacing the track and taking care of cosmetic updates at the concession stand, the press box, the fencing and the parking lot.

“We have a lot of things we’re trying to get done,” Heaton said. The aim is to have all renovations and updates complete by the end of June.

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