School Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Crews put finishing touches on new Milton Frank turf

Data pix.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - High school football season starts this week and Huntsville city school leaders were cutting it close putting on a brand new turf at Milton Frank Stadium.

As the temperature nears 100, Huntsville High football coach Mark Fleetwood keeps a wet bulb globe thermometer on hand.

"If this reaches a certain point, then I'm going to take them off the field and take their equipment off," Fleetwood said.

Just like the afternoon temp, the intensity ticks up for the Huntsville High Panthers, just a few days before their first game of the season.

"You finally get to quit hitting each other and go hit somebody else," Fleetwood said.

It's full pads and cleats as the panthers are preparing to face Decatur High.

"It's at our place this year, they stung us pretty good last year," Fleetwood said.

Until Monday, it was unclear if Fleetwood's place, Milton Frank Stadium would be ready in time.

In June, Huntsville City School leaders said 'yes' to replacing the stadium's turf with an August 17th deadline.

"We'll finish everything up probably Tuesday and then have some teams come practice on it and then we'll be good to go for Thursday night," Huntsville City Schools athletics coordinator Scott Stapler said.

Fleetwood says their backup plan was to play Thursday's game at Decatur. He says, thankfully, the Panthers get to hang onto home field as Huntsville City School leaders kept him in the loop with the status of the project. He says he's even stepped onto the new turf, and he's pleased.

"It's exciting, and I guess we're going to be the first team on it," Fleetwood said.

As promised, the old turf is rolled up, ready to be hauled away. The new turf is laid out, which means no half-hour bus ride for the Panthers and a chance at revenge against the Raiders.

Huntsville High and Decatur will kick off at 7:00 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, cross-town rivals Columbia and Lee High get their chance as they take the field.

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