At times in the summer, Loreauville senior quarterback Jared Henry arrived for weight lifting and conditioning workouts and couldn’t totally comprehend what was taking place outside on the football field.
“When I looked some days it was a total mess,” Henry said. “I wasn’t sure if they knew what they were doing at first. Every day it got better. Then when it rained, it looked the same, and I kept thinking it wouldn’t be done in time.”
What Henry first heard about two years ago — new artificial turf football field for Loreauville High — has evolved over the past five months into a reality.
While there’s still some items that must be completed outside the field of play, Loreauville’s version of extreme makeover will be finished ahead of its season opener Sept. 4 when the Tigers host Franklin in their new digs.
“The whole community is excited,” Loreauville football coach Trent Delahoussaye said. “You can tell by the number of people who pass by every day. The kids have asked every day if we’re going to be able to get on it. They’re excited.”
Delahoussaye, who begins his ninth season at Loreauville, said money for the $1.3 million project was derived from a bond issue through the Iberia Parish School Board that earmarks funding for athletics every four to five years.
The project also includes new goal posts, scoreboard, play clocks, sound system and lights.
Recent athletic improvements at Loreauville also include a new baseball/softball complex and renovation of the school’s gym.
“Our superintendent (Dale Henderson) understands how a really good education and athletics go hand in hand,” Delahoussaye said. “When you have facilities like we have, it helps to keep school spirit up. Our education in this parish is second to none.”
Delahoussaye said he first noticed work on the project beginning in April when bulldozers arrived and began removing the existing natural grass field.
In its place FieldTurf — considered one of the industry’s best and touts its product as a replication of real grass — has been positioned over the past month without incident.
Loreauville now features a vibrant green playing surface with LHS and Tigers adorned in each end zone painted in black with gold letters trimmed in white.
“Watching them work on it, you saw the progress, and you started to get more and more excited,” Henry said. “To see the final result is amazing. I’m just ready to play on it.”
Each square foot of FieldTurf contains seven pounds of sand and three pounds of rounded cryogenic rubber that are placed between the turf’s polyethylene fibers.
There’s an eight-year warranty on the field which is expected to last for 10 years, providing Loreauville with an estimated annual savings of $47,500 on field maintenance.
“One thing I’ve seen from our field against others is that ours looks like real grass,” Delahoussaye said. “It looks like it’s been cut with a real mower. It looks great and will have great traction. They did a great job.”
One noticeable break from tradition will be at midfield where Delahoussaye, who solicited feedback from players and people in the community, has replaced the trademark ‘L’ with a reconfigured ‘Eye of the Tiger’ that’s nearly 20 yards in length.
Delahoussaye said Loreauville’s version, though, differs from LSU’s because of its copyright with the NCAA.
“We’re a small program doing big things,” Henry said, noting the program’s recent trips to the state quarterfinals and semifinals. “This will also show we’ve got some big things going on here.”