Tigers claw into new turf

21 July 2017

The Tigers jogged onto the new artificial turf at Bud Mendenhall Field for the first time Tuesday and immediately had a new task to perform.

There was a soccer goal positioned on the field at the back of one of the end zones. Such is life at a small school with artificial turf.

Triton Central’s athletic department received clearance to start using the turf Tuesday and Tim Able’s football program immediately took to the field for a late afternoon practice.

“It’s going to allow us to practice a little bit harder and with more intensity,” said Able of the new playing surface at Bud Mendenhall Field. “We don’t have to worry about falling on a hard surface. The ground is level. (The turf) should reduce injuries as far as landing on the ground.”

The Tigers will practice on the turf, along with the girls soccer program, much of this season.

“We have to try and get acclimated to the heat,” said Able. “It’s going to be the hottest week of the summer and we’re getting onto the turf. We really have to stay hydrated during practice.”

The Tigers have a scheduled practice Wednesday then travel to Greenwood for an organized workout today.

“That’s three days in a row on turf in the heat that’s good for us,” said Able.

While special teams kicked off Tuesday’s practice, a small group of quarterbacks and receivers ran routes into the end zone to see who could produce spectacular touchdown catches. It was a good case of “boys will be boys” as the group enjoyed their first extended time on the field.

Once the shoulder pads went on, it was business as usual for Able, who quickly found a freshman to bark at for doing a drill wrong. With less than one month till the season opener at Park Tudor, Able was not in the mood for a sloppy practice despite the excitement surrounding the practice.

Triton Central will not play on natural grass until Sept. 15 at former Mid-Indiana Football Conference-rival Indian Creek. The Tigers’ scrimmage at Batesville (Aug. 11), opener at Park Tudor (Aug. 18) and week three game at Lutheran (Sept. 1) will all be on artificial turf, as will the home opener against Howe (Aug. 25) and week four against Monrovia (Sept. 8).

The only time Able expects to practice on natural grass is in the weeks when the team will play on real grass on Friday nights. That should be week five at Indian Creek and the final two weeks of the regular season when the team travels to Beech Grove and to Speedway.

As the team gets accustomed to the new surface, its learning to abide by strict rules.

“There is no Gatorade and no (chewing) gum allowed on the field,” said Able. “And if someone (vomits) on the field, we’ll have to take care of business.”

Gatorade stains. Gum sticks to everything. And vomit? Well no one wants to get tackled into that mess.

“All we have to do is train kids so they know what to do,” said Able.