Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Summer’s heat sizzles football field

July 31, 2002

High school football fields aren't supposed to look like sandlots, but Tonganoxie High School's stadium could be in rough shape if more rain doesn't fall soon.

Sunday night's shower was a start, but THS coach Mark Elston said the field's grass planted about two weeks ago still is thirsty.

The ideal weather, Elston said, would include temperatures in the high 80s and rain every three or four days.

"Well, it needed for it to rain all night long," Elston said about Sunday's shower. "It's still going to take a lot."

Elston's wish list seems hefty considering the heart of summer is approaching.

And for now, the field can't rely on city water for relief. With the recent watering restrictions on Tonganoxie, outdoor watering is not allowed. This is causing problems for school officials, especially because new ryegrass was planted on Beatty Field, and fescue is attempting to grow on the Chieftains' practice field just west of the stadium.

"There's a major concern," Elston said.

If a solution isn't found, Elston said playing the first games on Beatty Field could be in question. Elston tossed out safety as a major worry.

"This was going to be a critical time for the grass to take hold," Elston said. "If we don't get some help from Mother Nature, it could be tough."

The team just finished its annual football camp Saturday and has been using the practice field west of the stadium. Elston said dirt was brought in to fill some trouble spots, but even the practice field could use some water to avoid clumping.

"It's fescue," Elston said. "It should come back in cooler weather, but in the meantime, it's like playing in the parking lot. It's dangerous."

School superintendent Richard Erickson, though, was more upbeat about the field situation.

"I'm encouraged by last night's rain," Erickson said Monday.

If the fields don't get relief through rain, Erickson said he's discussed ways of bringing in water to the school from Suburban Water, Basehor. The Breuer family, including Andrew Breuer, an assistant on Elston's staff, operates the company. Erickson spoke with Breuer and there's a possibility water can be brought in with trucks.

"They would be able to provide a big tanker and probably water adequately once a week, if the drought continues," Erickson said.

Originally, the superintendent said the situation appeared to be cost prohibitive, but now an alternative has been found. The field could be watered sufficiently once a week for $300 to $400, while the practice field could be watered for $100 to $150.

"In the worst-case scenario, we could water it and hopefully it would get us by through the drought time," Erickson said.

Football practice begins Aug. 19; the season kicks off Sept. 6 against Wamego.

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