First-year Carson Senators head football coach Blair Roman and his players have several reasons to be optimistic this year, not the least of which is a larger team (it currently numbers around a healthy 50).
If any further visible proof is needed why Roman and the Senators " who finished 2-8 last season " have a little more bounce in their step this year, one needs only to pay a visit to the Carson High School stadium.
Not only are the stands refurbished, but the gridiron is new as well. In place of natural grass, there is now FieldTurf, the installation of which was completed on Aug. 18. Along with the track, which is scheduled to be surfaced in early September, the jazzed-up complex represents about $2 million of the $25 million bond passed in 2006.
The Senators football team will officially inaugurate its new field today, when they host Spanish Springs at 7 p.m.
"It's heaven," Roman said of the FieldTurf, which is monofilament polyethylene blend fibers tufted into a polypropylene backing and composed of silica sand and cryogenically frozen and smashed rubber particles. It is also currently used by 21 NFL teams and more than 50 NCAA football teams, including the University of Nevada, Reno.
The football team will share the new field with the Carson boys and girls soccer teams.
Roman said FieldTurf, which other local high schools such as Douglas and Damonte Ranch also use, is a huge improvement from older artificial surfaces.
"It's not like the artificial surfaces of the past, which were like concrete," he said. "You can use regular cleats. It's like playing on natural grass. All the football players I've talked to so far love practicing on it."
FieldTurf has all of the beneficial biomechanical properties of natural grass " it is neither spongy nor unforgiving. The synthetic surface looks and feels like natural grass, but saves in maintenance costs, such as watering.
Roman said recent concerns about players inhaling toxic rubber particles from the FieldTurf have been addressed.
"It's been a topic of conversation with our administration," Roman said. "They looked into the concerns. For the most part, those concerns are unfounded."
FieldTurf.com provided several independent studies that claim the surface poses neither a health risk to the players nor an environmental hazard.
More practical to football players, Roman said, FieldTurf studies have shown no statistical difference when compared to natural grass when it comes to injuries. Older artificial surfaces " and their lack of give " were especially hard on knees. The harder surfaces were also responsible for blunt-force impact injuries.
Roman said the new field and complex have served to ignite positive interest from players and the community alike.
"We're very fortunate. I feel like I've been handed a silver platter," Roman said. "We've been able to capitalize on that (the new field), as have boosters. The community is excited about the new stadium, field and the complex in general."
The result, Roman said, is an increase in school spirit, which in turn has translated into increased numbers of players.
If the Senators' performance on the field mirrors the excitement surrounding the surface itself, Roman, his team and the community all will have even more reason to be optimistic.