HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Homer-Center preps for articifial surface at Mansion Park
The Homer-Center Wildcats have done just fine in the barn, but they’re headed to the Mansion.
Homer-Center loves kicking up piles of mud and grass as it plows through yet another team’s defensive front week after week. The natural surfaces — sometimes mud pits — of the Heritage Conference are the Wildcats’ home.
Of course, if a team plays well enough all season in the slop, it’s likely to eventually get a game on a fancy artificial surface, and that’s what it’s come to for Homer-Center, which faces Bishop Guilfoyle in the District 6 Class A championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Homer-Center, which has grinded out 266.6 yards per game this season on natural surfaces, will head to Altoona’s Mansion Park and its artificial turf. To prepare, coach Greg Page took the Wildcats to the turf at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Miller Stadium on Tuesday evening, and they will go to Indiana High School’s Kuzneski Field today to work out on the synthetic surface.
It’s not a disadvantage in Saturday’s game, just something to get used to, the Wildcats said.
“Since we’ve been on grass, you’d think going to turf we may have the mindset that we feel a little faster,” Page said.
“I don’t think (it’s a disadvantage),” junior quarterback Aaron Berezansky said. “Usually we have to make sure of our cuts. The field’s always muddy and we’ve got to make sure our feet are underneath us. (On turf) it’s not too hard to cut, so I think it’s going to be an advantage for us.”
Bishop Guilfoyle is used to the rubber-based field — Mansion Park is its home field.
“It was awesome that we could go up there and try that out,” junior running back Ean Lee said after the practice at IUP. “It’s not that much different from grass. It’s just, your footing is more precise. There’s more cutting involved. Your foot doesn’t slip around like ice or mud. It’s a nice way of getting used to going out there and playing on Saturday. … It doesn’t affect in a bad way. It actually affects in a good way. It helps with cutting and stuff.”
“It’s not going to hurt us at all,” senior running back Mike Newhouse said. “Everybody says you’re quicker on turf and cuts are better and this and that. It’s nothing but good for us, but we’ve got to get used to it, you know? Your foot sticks in a little better. You’ve got to get used to that on cuts, but other than that, you just play football.”