STHS turf

By now, it’s old news.

Terrebonne High School and South Terrebonne High School’s football stadiums have been turfed.

The process is mostly complete and the fields will easily be ready for the start of the 2019 football season in a month.

But this week, the Terrebonne Parish School System answered a couple logistical questions about the fields that they hope will work for all four high schools who will use the fields.

Coaches confirmed to The Times at Tri-Parish Media Day, hosted by the Terrebonne General Medical Center Community Sports Institute, that the school system will provide transportation to both H.L. Bourgeois and Ellender when rains soak local grass practice fields.

This accommodation seeks to give equal access and practice time to all of the area’s public high schools throughout the season — a decision that coaches say could be beneficial during the course of the season.

“The biggest benefit of the turf is being able to practice on it,” said Thibodaux High School football coach Chris Dugas. His team has had turf since 2018. “We love it on Friday nights, but we love it from Monday-to-Thursday more, because you’re just able to do so much more work.”

In Lafourche, transportation and logistics are not an issue.

Each school has their own turfed field at their stadium, as well as a natural grass practice field. Coaches decide each day when to practice and where. When it’s dry, teams are mostly in the grass. When it rains and the grassy fields break down, they move to the natural surface.

But when Terrebonne Parish made the decision to move to turf, there were questions about how it would work logistically.

For Terrebonne and South Terrebonne, it’s a non-issue. Like the schools in Lafourche, they have the field in their backyard and can set up their practice schedules accordingly working around the weather.

But for Ellender and H.L. Bourgeois, all there is on campus is grass and afternoon showers often water log those fields and force the team indoors.

H.L. Bourgeois coach Ryan Fournier and Ellender coach David McCormick said they received confirmation this week that on days that the grass is unplayable, bussing will be given to move the teams from campus to the turf.

Fournier said he thought it was a nice gesture from the school system.

“It helps us,” he said. “Work in the gym is better than nothing, but the kids don’t like it. We, as coaches don’t like it. The more time you can have on a field, the better it is for your football team.”

But there are challenges.

Fournier said he’s happy to move his team to Terrebonne for practices, but said he knows it will have to be after Terrebonne gets in their own work, which will throw off their routine a little.

“It can make for some long days,” Fournier said. “I told our coaching staff there might be some nights where we’re getting home a little later this year.”

McCormick said he has concerns about the transportation.

He said the school system told him that buses would be made available at around dismissal time, but he doesn’t think that will be possible.

He said every time he’s asked for a bus, he’s either been given one at 11 a.m. or at 4:30 p.m. — around the parish’s transportation schedule for students.

McCormick conceded that the more work a team can get, the better they’ll be, but added that he’s concerned about drastically altering his team’s routines to get there.

“We’ll see how it works,” he said.


The lone local programs without turf are Houma Christian and Vandebilt Catholic.

Vandebilt coach Lance Ledet said he’d love to someday have turf in Houma, but added he wants it more for the summer and for practices.

Ledet said he’s not concerned about the playing conditions on Friday nights, adding that they’re the same for both teams — no matter how good or bad they are.

He echoed other coaches and said the advantages of turf come in the ability to practice consistently throughout the season — no matter how much rain has fallen.

This has plagued the Terriers in the past.

In last year’s loss against Thibodaux, both Dugas and former Terriers coach Jeremy Atwell said conditioning was an issue in the game.

The Tigers finished strong in the fourth quarter — in part due to the work they were able to do throughout offseason practices while Vandebilt was indoors.

“That’s the biggest advantage — the practice time,” Ledet said. “It’s good for your conditioning. It’s good for your ability to get reps. On Friday night, I’m not worried about our field. I love our grass. But I’d love to someday be able to have the turf, because it’s almost like an insurance policy.”

Follow Casey on Twitter for more.

Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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