When a school transitions from a traditional field to an all turf playing surface, the switch is usually a costly and labor intensive one. Rarely does a school make it out of the move for less than $700-800,000.
While that sum isn't an insurmountable obstacle for a big school, it's a fairly shocking one for one of the smallest schools in the state, which is precisely what Mineral Springs (Ark.) High is. Despite those size constraints, the Hornets will play their first quasi-competitive game on their new field turf football stadium on Thursday, when Mineral Springs hosts fellow Arkansas Class 2A squad Poyen.
"Man, I have never been this excited for an upcoming season," Mineral Springs head coach Vince Perrin told GeoSurfaces.com, the web site for the Field Turf company which installed the school's new turf. "We have made incredible strides in this program and this is just icing on the cake. I can't wait to get started."
The fact that Mineral Springs chose to install the new turf while other districts around the country are slashing any and all discretionary funding from prospective school budgets makes the new field all the more surprising.
The conversion from a conventional hard-packed dirt field to luxurious Field Turf asserts Mineral Springs' role as one of the Natural State's most aggressive up-and-coming programs, despite the school's lack of size; Mineral Springs -- which enters the 2011 season ranked number 6 in ArkansasVarsity's initial Class 2A top ten -- is the first Class 2A school to install any type of an artificial turf playing surface.
In fact, Mineral Springs is more than just the only Class 2A school to sport artificial turf. It's also the smallest football-playing school in the entire state of Arkansas.
Now, it's the smallest football-playing school with a heck of a nice field. According to GeoSurfaces' web story, the Mineral Springs field was designed to be loosely like the one that was installed at nearby Henderson State University. While no one has played a competitive game on the surface yet, it's hard to say that the results fall short of a potential collegiate playing surface in the image above, which were taken by ArkansasVarsity staff photographer Kim Plant.
Whether the new field helps land another state title for the Hornets remains to be seen, but it certainly isn't dimming expectations; Perrin, among others, has already set the program's official 2011 goals as both a District 7-2A and Class 2A state title.
At the very least, having one of the best fields in the state certainly can't hurt.