New turf gives Tigers much more practice area than they're used to.
Saturday ended a full week of practice for the St. James High School football team on its new turf.
And the Tigers now have so much more room than they’re used to, they’re still looking for ways to use all of it during practice sessions.
Indeed, St. James football head coach Greg Harlan is putting the new Tiger synthetic turf field to good use. He said the field offers much, much more practice room than they team’s old natural-grass practice field, located just outside the field house.
“It has more than doubled the area we can practice on,” Harlan said. “And we can do so much more now. In fact, we’re looking for ways to use more of the field during practice.”
Another improvement the turf gives is improved speed.
“It plays fast,” Harlan said. “You definitely feel you can move on it faster compared to grass. Of course, it will work that way for both teams.”
After competing in the state-mandated practices with just helmets and, then, just helmets and shoulder pads the first five days, the Tigers practiced in full pads for the first time on Saturday. Part of Saturday’s practice was a short scrimmage.
“It’s been pretty good; we’re learning as we go,” Harlan said of practice. “We graduated a lot of receivers, so we’ve got some inexperience there. They’re doing a lot of things right, we’ve just got to clean some things up. Our offensive line is more experienced and they have looked good so far.
“Defensively we’ve got a lot of starters back. Plus we’ve got a couple of new players who came out who we’re excited about.”
One of the new players is senior Seth Thompson, is hasn’t played football before but Harlan says is picking things up fast at outside linebacker. The other is senior Scott Sieber, a linebacker-offensive lineman who hasn’t played the past two years.
“He’s picking up where he left off as a freshman,” Harlan said of Sieber.
Harlan feels the Tigers have more depth this year.
“We have around 50 guys out and we’ve got a really good mix of skill guys and linemen,” Harlan said. “If kids get banged up and can’t play, we feel more comfortable we have kids who can step in.”
TIGER NOTES: St. James again competes in the Sullivan Jamboree on Friday.
The Sullivan Football Jamboree is slated to begin at 7 p.m. and will include St. James, Sullivan, Salem and Pacific.
Admission is $2 for both adults and students. A concession stand will be available.
Two teams will play a scrimmage on each side of the field, from 40 yards in. Each team will run a set number of offensive and defensive plays against each of the other three squads.
St. James is slated to open its season Aug. 22 in a non-conference game at Cuba (7 p.m.). The Tigers’ first game on their new home turf is slated for Aug. 29 against non-league foe Houston (7 p.m.).