FARRAGUT (WATE) – It’s Friday night football time and some Knox County teams are going to be playing their season openers on new artificial turf fields. Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family donated $10 million last year to refurbish and modernize football fields at the 13 Knox County high schools over a 36 month period.
The new turf is made with sand and crumb rubber. The Farragut head football coach says this is so much better than the grass field they had last year.
Amon Johnson, a senior running back at Farragut High School, played his first three years on a grass field but he will now be making plays on this new synthetic field turf. It was put in just a month ago.
“It’s going to be different. Like just yesterday, running through our plays and stuff I felt good. I was like I just can’t wait to get in front of the crowd and show them what we can do,” said Johnson.
Farragut head football coach Eddie Courtney says the natural grass turf they had in the past was nice, but having the synthetic turf has been a game changer. He used to spend almost 24 hours a week on field maintenance.
“Line it off, keeping it lined off, when it does get torn up you have to roll it and keep it pressed down. You’d have to cut it again and put sand in it so it’s just a process, a lot of time, lot of money and a lot of effort,” said Coach Courtney.
Coach Courtney and Johnson believe the synthetic turf is safer.
“It’s real soft. There is no certain grain going this way or another. It’s like stepping on carpet. It just goes down so you don’t get your feet caught in it and twist ankles and knees,” said Coach Courtney.
“I can plant harder. Like in grass I would plant and slide a little bit. In turf it just sticks, and I’m able to get up the field faster and quicker,” said Johnson.
Bearden High School also has the new turf and will debut it Friday as well. Besides reduced maintenance and possible improved safety, the coaches and players say the synthetic field turf looks first class and is impressive especially to visiting teams.
“They are going to look around and say, ‘Wow like this is a blessing to play on,’ and most teams don’t get an opportunity to play on this,” said Johnson.
The coach says this artificial turf is nice because it won’t get dark or bare spots and when it rains, practice can still continue. Four fields have been finished so far: Farragut, Powell, Bearden and Farragut all have the new synthetic field turfs.