If Waverly’s 3-7 football season in 2014 was hard to swallow, than the school’s field only added insult to injury.
Plagued by overuse and torrential rains last fall, the Tigers’ grass playing surface gave way into a soupy swamp as the year progressed. By the time Waverly hosted Portsmouth West for Senior Night, grass was hard to come by at Tiger Stadium.
Though the field was in desperate need of a replacement and officials had discussed installing FieldTurf, Waverly football coach Chris Crabtree figured the Tigers were in for the long haul with a grass playing surface. After the school system installed a new locker room, field house and press box in early 2014, funds were in short supply.
“If you would have asked me last year if we would have (FieldTurf), I would have said you were crazy,” Crabtree said.
But in the offseason, the community banded together to raise sufficient funds to install new synthetic turf. The field was completed late last month, and the Waverly football team has taken advantage throughout training camp. Waverly’s soccer program will also take advantage of the new turf.
“It kind of just took off. We have some really good folks in our administration that made it happen,” Crabtree said.
The field, which features customized orange and black end zones and an orange tiger paw print at the 50 yard-line, will not only benefit Waverly athletics, but the entire region. With the field and stadium upgrades, the school is now a viable candidate to begin hosting OHSAA football playoff games. Because the stadium falls between Columbus and Portsmouth and is located right off of Route 23, games played in Waverly could potentially save hours of travel for local playoff teams.
Crabtree also hopes that Waverly’s new field will give his team a home-field advantage. With the Tigers transitioning from a power offense to a spread “Pistol,” he feels a faster surface can only help.
“It’s just been tremendous, the new attitude and the new moral. It’s just been awesome,” Crabtree said. “The whole mentality of us moving fast, it’s sharp and crisp and clean.
“I haven’t been over on the grass (practice field) once and I don’t plan on it until I have to,” he added.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter