The turf football fields at Clark, Rancho and Valley high schools have been deemed unplayable by the Clark County School District, forcing all three programs to find alternative places to practice and play games.
“It’s hard because we don’t have an alternative field that’s regulated and conducive to the way we need to practice,” said Clark coach Ricky Pickens, whose junior varsity, B team and varsity have been forced to practice on the outfield of the school’s softball field. “We don’t have lines. We don’t have hash marks. We don’t have all the things we’re used to by having a turf field all of this time.”
All three schools received a turf field in the early 2000s, and these fields usually have a shelf life of about 10 years. That number can be extended with proper upkeep and by limiting use, but eventually wear-and-tear takes its toll.
What a school is left with over time is a field that has more and more spots in which only the turf’s underlying rubber surface can be seen. That these three fields are all in visible disrepair didn’t lessen the impact the news had on the teams.
“It’s disappointing because I’ve played here since my freshman year,” Valley senior Harland Rodriguez said. “Knowing we can’t play on our home field, it’s heartbreaking because it’s home. We’ve got play somewhere else, and it’s not going to feel the same. But we’ve just got to go (on the road) and take what’s ours.”
Valley senior J.C. Bingham said he left a lot of memories on the home field and hoped to use his senior year to make more of them.
But after the initial shock, there was only one thing left to do — get over it and go to work. As Bingham said, “We’ve just got to go with the flow and keep going on and playing football.”
“I think we’ve adjusted really well,” Valley coach Quincy Burts said. “We talk about adversity and not worrying about things that are out of our control.”
For practice, Valley and Rancho have lined the baseball fields at their campuses to make them at least closely resemble a football field.
Even being able to do that was a huge relief for Rancho coach Leon Evans despite the “logistical nightmare” of lugging equipment and water farther than in years past for practice.
“At first, we thought we were going to have to get on a bus and go to a community park every day,” Evans said. “That wasn’t going to work, but we’ve been preaching we’ll play in a parking lot if we have to.”
Rancho won’t have to go to that drastic of a measure. The Rams will be on the road for most of their games, as will Clark, but all three schools have found neutral sites at which to play. In fact, Clark and Rancho meet Friday at Durango.
The saddest part of this situation, Evans said, is for the seniors who have been affected. There’s no ideal game to use as homecoming and senior night, and that’s a lament that has been echoed by some seniors.
“My initial reaction was I was torn up,” Clark senior Chris McCoy said. “I was like, I just lost my senior homecoming game. I just lost my senior night, and there were family plans for people from out of town to come in. But after a day or so, I relaxed and came back to earth that it’s not the end of the world. We’re still going to have games. We’re still going to have a season.”
There are some silver linings. The original plan for the CCSD was to replace the turf at all three fields, and while Burts said he hasn’t heard anything recently, Evans and Pickens said that’s still the plan. CCSD athletic director Pam Sloan did not return calls seeking comment.
Also, each team will have an opportunity it might not have had otherwise — to play on a college field. That will come Sept. 28 at Sam Boyd Stadium, with Clark meeting Sierra Vista at 1 p.m., Moapa Valley facing Rancho at 4 and Valley playing Cheyenne at 7 in the Vikings’ homecoming game.
(All times 7 p.m. unless noted)
Needles vs. Phoenix Christian at Flagstaff (Ariz.), 1:30 p.m.
Las Vegas at Gateway (Colo.), 6 p.m.
Sierra Vista at Skyridge (Utah), 6 p.m.
Lincoln County at Enterprise (Utah), 6 p.m.
American Fork (Utah) at Arbor View
Bishop Manogue at Desert Pines
Canyon Springs at Foothill
Durango at Green Valley
Spring Valley at Chaparral
SLAM Academy at Del Sol
Rancho vs. Clark (at Durango)
Valley at Desert Oasis
Western at Sunrise Mountain
Pahrump Valley at Virgin Valley
Bonanza at Silverado
Coronado at Moapa Valley
Williams (Ariz.) at Pahranagat Valley
Liberty at Mililani (Hawaii), 10 p.m.
Bishop Gorman at St. Louis (Hawaii), 10 p.m.