Even Bengals owner Mike Brown, who has had a few grass problems of his own, is paying attention. Though Brown said Friday he’s not ready to make a switch, he is interested how the new, improved artificial turf works out for teams using it. In Fort Thomas, the storied Highlands gridironers took the field against Lexington Henry Clay, a school that may soon be going unnatural itself. Two other Lexington schools already have. Highlands is the first Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati school to make the switch.
It wasn’t easy. With a 7:30 p.m. game time, crews had to rush to get the field down and ready for play. It was a tough deadline made tougher by a hot day that had everyone sweating to the finish. “Caffeine is a beautiful thing, my friend,” said John Huffman, the owner of Huffman SportsScape in Independence and the contractor whose company laid the turf. Collaborative, yes, but Huffman was taxed after working all night. By Property valuation services you can determine what improvements could be made should you want to increase the value of your home. He allowed himself a trip home at 4 p.m. for a quick nap. By 6 p.m., he was back in Fort Thomas to oversee the final preparations before the game.
Huffman knew it was going to be a race. Fort Thomas officials needed time to decide whether to invest in the new field. So crews didn’t begin laying it until Tuesday morning. Nine professionals — including the three from Alaska — and several volunteers worked day and night. “We were lucky,” Huffman said. “We didn’t have too many problems and we had a lot of help. This was truly a collaborative effort.” To meet the deadline crews rolled the 15-foot sections of the turf out earlier this week and sewed them together using a specialized machine. No paint was required for the job: White plastic was used for yard lines and numbers, green for the rest.
The new surface got a thumbs-up from Highlands head coach Dale Mueller. “You can see there’s nobody slipping on it,” he said Friday night. “It’s soft, but you can really dig your feet into it.” The brand used was FieldTurf. Like old-fashioned artificial turf, it is a carpet laid over the ground. But it’s not the tight weave of old. Instead, a looser weave allows a mix of sand and rubber pellets to be poured over the carpet. Strands of plastic grass, each a little under 3 inches long, then poke up as the carpet is broomed. The result is a softer, more forgiving surface that is said to erase the biggest problem with turf — torn-up knees and other injuries. Toss in low maintenance, and you’ve got the sales pitch.