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Cameron Smith

New York school makes playoffs after spending year on 45-yard field

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Earlier this year, Prep Rally wrote about New York's Lehman High School, which has to play all of its games on the road because it only has an 80-yard field. As bad as that is, another New York City school would trade it's facilities for Lehman's field any day.

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At Erasmus (N.Y.) High, the Dutchmen have been forced to spend the entire season practicing on the school's courtyard, a tiny, 45-yard piece of grass, because of renovation construction that took over the school's traditional field before the school year began. According to Mark Lelinwalla of the New York Daily News, there were no remaining unused city parks with permits available, so Erasmus had to find some site on campus to hold practice.

Thus, the school's courtyard -- usually a pristine site used for special occasions -- has been transformed into a muddy pit of golf-like divots in desperate need of a re-sodding.

"The school's principals and custodial engineers were nice enough to let us use this, when we have nothing else, because all the permits are taken for the city parks, so there's nowhere to go," Erasmus coach Danny Landberg told the Daily News. "This courtyard is usually not touched. They do graduations on it. They're letting us use this because of our predicament."

The practices haven't been easy on the Dutchmen, either. With only 45 yards to work with, Erasmus has had to practice without yard lines, numbers or even traditional football equipment. All those limitations make contact drills almost impossible, and even small-scale workouts a challenge.

"We can't engage, can't get footing, can't get a base, can't drive," Erasmus assistant coach David Grippo told the Daily News. "Walkthroughs to three-fourths speed is as hard as we can go here. (Game days) are the first time we're going full speed all week."

Amazingly, the tiny practice field has hardly slowed Erasmus down. The Dutchmen have rolled up an impressive 7-2 record heading into the first round of the Public School Athletic League playoffs on Saturday.

Whether Erasmus can pull out an opening-round win or not, one thing seems certain: They'll cite their competitive disadvantage from the Erasmus practice field as motivation that proves they can find a way to win.

"We talk before, during the games and bring this field up and everyone gets mad," Erasmus quarterback Wayne Morgan told the Daily News. "We say, ‘They're playing on a good field and look what we're playing on!' But I can't wait to go back to our field next year."

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