A couple of weeks ago, I was assigned to interview a couple of football players at a local school.
Imagine my surprise when I walked into a field house about the size of a small elementary school with a weight room that looked like it belonged on a college campus.
Then there was the stadium.
It included seating for 8,500, turf and an electronic scoreboard that posts replays and ads.
Think it was a college field?
No, it was in Belton.
Coming from the great state of Michigan, I was in awe.
Michigan does not have those types of stadiums, that large a field house or weight rooms.
I guess it was my welcome to Texas football.
I moved from Michigan about five months ago and have only had a chance to experience Texas baseball, softball and track and field.
Football appears to be king in Texas ... case in point, the $72 million high school stadium near Katy that will be shared by eight schools. Legacy Stadium near Katy has seating for 12,000, suites, a 171-foot jumbotron scoreboard, two decks and covers 42 acres.
The largest crowd I ever witnessed at a high school game near Jackson, Mich., was just over 4,000 for a midseason showdown about a decade ago between Onsted and Blissfield.
The stadium at the school, which is about the size of Florence High, could only seat 2,000, so fans formed a ring around the field. It was exciting, as the game went into overtime for a pair of teams that were 6-0.
So I look forward to seeing some of the other stadiums in the area. Copperas Cove has a nice stadium with the best turf in the country — according to head coach Jack Welch.
Welch gathered a group of referees at a scrimmage last week to tell them about the new turf. He noted it had an E-layer underneath the turn that is 19 millimeters high.
That would pass any Gmax Test — a system measuring player impact and is a fundamental tool of athletic field safety testing. It is also useful in assessing the playability of a field.
Welch also noted the turf also has three types of fiber — saying fields generally have only one.
“The only other field like this is the Tampa Devil Rays baseball field ... they have a [football] bowl game on that field,” Welch said. “All kinds of high school and college officials want to look at the field.”
So football starts Sept. 1 for most schools and I can’t wait. If the play on the field is as spectacular as the stadiums, I am in for a great fall.
Covering football most every Friday night goes back nearly two decades for me.
The only difference will be that I probably won’t need my favorite Central Michigan University sweatshirt until November — not the end of September like in Michigan.
But my approach to the game will remain the same.
If the team we are covering wins, I will single out a player and get a little insight on that player and the key plays during the contest.
If the team gets defeated soundly, it becomes a shorter article on how team X can get better with some photos.
So look for the guy on the sidelines with his eyes and mouth wide open taking in the view. With a camera strapped to my back and a note pad in my back pocket, I will continue the Friday night tradition of covering high school football.
I can’t wait to see your stadiums and teams.
Jeff Steers is editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7464.