North East High School

Work began this week on a turf field at North East High School and is expected to be finished in time for the football home opener in late September.

NORTH EAST — Installation of the fourth artificial turf field in Cecil County began this week and is expected to be completed by fall.

North East high school becomes the third high school in the county to replace its grass football field with a turf surface. The fourth and oldest artificial surface is at Calvert Regional Park.

“Monday, they officially got started,” North East athletic director Gary Brown said. “Each day this week, they’ve progressed further and further. When I was down there yesterday afternoon, the whole field was stripped of grass.”

Brown said some staging began last week and the scoreboard was brought down last Thursday. Barring any setbacks, the field is expected to be finished Sept. 6. He remained cautiously optimistic the goal will be met.

The Indians home opener for football is slated for Sept. 20 against Joppatowne.

“I’m thrilled to death,” North East football coach Chris Schleich said. “I think what it does is beyond a football program, it’s one of those things that can bind a community together. The community can be excited that the game will without question be at our field at 7 p.m.”

Schleich recalled the fire department pumping thousands of gallons off the field in order to play a game once last fall. Another time, 50 pounds of kitty litter were required.

“I think it’s an awesome addition to all the changes that have occurred,” he said. “Our JV team is winning, we’ve refurbished our field house and all our equipment. What a blessing to add a state-of-the-art field to it.”

Other sports too frequently had to be postponed or moved away due to field conditions. Now, boys and girls soccer and lacrosse will have access to a field in just about any weather.

“With the exception of lightning, we should be a go for most games,” Brown said. “I can’t tell you off the top of my head how many games we had to move to Calvert, move it away or just cancel it all together. To be very honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of turf fields, but I changed my mind last fall with the level of rain that we got.”

Perryville became the first school to have a turf field installed in 2017. The next was placed across the county at Bohemia Manor last fall. Both projects were completed midway through the schools’ respective football seasons.

The artificial fields are provided by the county Department of Parks and Recreation, which budgeted $1.5 million for the project. Rising Sun High School will be the next to receive one, followed by Elkton.

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Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig

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