Vicksburg protecting its turf

Published 9:17 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It was the loss of a home game.

It was the loss of the money usually made from ticket sales that went to support the school’s athletics program.

And, for the organization that was to manage the concession stands, it was the loss of a fundraising opportunity.

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But, by moving last Friday’s game from Vicksburg High School’s Memorial Stadium to Terry High School, officials believe they made the right decision when it came to the health and well-being of the student-athletes and the long-term playability of the field.

“We can’t control the elements. We tried everything that we could to get that field up to par. We moved the game to Terry with the hope that we could give the field another week, give us another week to get the field prepared and get the field ready for this Friday night,” Vicksburg Warren School District athletics director Preston Nailor said.

And what is this Friday night? Well, it just happens to be the annual battle between county rivals Vicksburg and Warren Central.

“This is one game that I do not want to move,” Nailor said.

Wet, rainy conditions, combined with two football games played on the same evening during the Red Carpet Bowl, led to the field at Memorial Stadium being unplayable last week. Playing Terry at home, Nailor said, would have put the ability of the stadium to host future games this season — players — at risk.

“It came to three choices. One, play at Vicksburg and run the risk of injury or not being able to play there this week. Two, potentially tear up Warren Central’s field and lose any back-up options for us, or three, move the game to Terry,” Nailor said.

Nailor said the decision, which was reached by him and Vicksburg High School principal Deowarski McDonald, also factored in what some believe is a very bright season ahead for the Vicksburg Gators.

“It comes back to what are we really looking for?” Nailor asked. “Is it about us losing thousands of dollars in revenue? Is it about putting our kids in an unplayable situation for the rest of the year? Or is it making sure we give these guys and these coaches an opportunity to go as far as this field will allow?

“Vicksburg has a very good team. We make sure that each and every game they play, that we put them in the best situation possible. That is what our focus is and that is what it will continue to be.”

Rehabilitation work on the field began in earnest Friday morning. Hicks and Hicks Lawn Service has been watering and re-seeding the field every day. Large splotches of sand are still present on the field, with the biggest on the visitors’ sideline.

“A lot of people make a big deal about that, but the sand on that side is on the sideline. They can stand in the sand,” said Glenn Hicks, owner of Hicks and Hicks, who was working on the field Monday morning.

The field at Memorial Stadium doesn’t drain well and often suffers damage when heavy rain and game action meet. Vicksburg football coach Marcus Rogers is hopeful that the repair work now under way will lessen that in the near future.

“They’re just re-sanding, dragging, rolling and aerating, all the stuff that should have been done last week,” Rogers said. “The turf will be fine. It’ll probably be better than what it was that first week because it’s so low now. We cut it low to where it needs to be, and it’s going to be back to Memorial Stadium.”

As for the weather forecast this week, it is a weather pattern that is normal for this time of year and one that will likely keep Nailor and other school officials guessing. Summer thunderstorms might dump some rain, and there’s a tropical storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico that appears bound for Florida but might affect Mississippi this weekend.

“Rain will help it,” Hicks said. “The only thing I need is nobody on it. Let us get it healthy again.”

Nailor promised that Friday’s game will be played at Memorial Stadium.

“I’m checking my phone all the time. I’m checking the weather when I wake up in the morning, when I go to sleep at night,” Nailor said. “But, whether it rains, sleet or snow, we are going to have that game at Vicksburg High School.”

Nailor said it is his hope that the decision to move last week’s game, along with the work by landscaping and turf experts this week, will have the field in good shape.

“Moving the game has given us given time to recoup the field and time to build it back up,” Nailor said. “We know this is a big game, both teams are coming in undefeated. We wanted to make sure we give the athletes, and the community, the best game possible.”

Sports writer Ernest Bowker contributed to this report.


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About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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