Central Marks Their Turf

Manheim, PA – Don’t look now, but the turf craze has taken the Lancaster-Lebanon League by storm.

Pequea Valley and Hempfield have turf fields.

And now you can add two more schools to that list, as Manheim Central and Manheim Township are set to unveil new multipurpose turf fields this season.

Central recently installed A-Turf, while Township went with Field Turf.

Both fields will be ready to go Sept. 8, when the Barons and the Blue Streaks will have their home openers.

Hersheypark Stadium – Central’s home away from home – also has A-Turf, so that’s the surface the school district went with.

“We like A-Turf,” Central coach Mike Williams said. “Hersheypark Stadium has A-Turf, and we’ve always liked playing on that surface. It’s a fast turf and we like it that way. Anything is better than what we’ve played on at home in October the last however many years.

“Quite frankly, turf isn’t a luxury anymore. It’s a necessity. All the fall sports – field hockey, soccer – want to play in the big stadium, and you can only have so many events on grass.

“It’s a special thing when your kids get to play on turf, so this is another nice step forward for our program – and for all of our sports here.”

A-Turf and Field Turf are made up of grass-like fibers with rubber granules and sand as a base.

The more it rains and the more the field is used, the more the rubber granules settle and the field – which is practically maintenance-free – becomes softer.

A softer field means less injuries – and no humps and bumps like regular grass and dirt fields.

Central’s upgrade – in conjunction with the building of a new middle school – was part of a reported estimated $3.5 million project that also includes a new weight room, locker rooms, trainers’ room, classrooms and a huge second-floor wrestling room.

Township’s upgrade was part of a multi-million dollar project at the high school, and the stadium, as well as the soccer and field hockey fields opposite the stadium, will have Field Turf.

“It’s good for the players and it’s good for our program and it’s good for the community and the school district,” Manheim Township coach Mike Melnyk said. “It’s a great showpiece to show that we have a first-class program with first-class facilities.

“As far as being the football coach … ultimately, I’m more concerned about what’s going on inside the white lines – not what the white lines are painted on.

“We’ve played on turf before. Now it will be an even surface for both teams.”

So let it rain – or snow. The elements shouldn’t affect the turf at all.

Remember when Central won the 2003 state Triple-A championship in Hershey in a driving snow storm? The game was played on A-Turf, and there were zero problems.

“Mud is always a factor when it rains, so turf will be nice, that’s for sure,” Township senior wideout Jay Ridinger said. “I know I’m looking forward to being able to use my speed on it.”

So is Nate Groff, Central’s speedy senior running back.

“It’s going to be quick,” he said. “It might even add a new twist or turn to our game.”

And it will be easier on everyone’s feet – particularly the big guys in the trenches.

“It’ll be easier on the linemen, because if we have bad weather, we won’t have to worry about losing our feet,” Township senior Cory Pfautz said. “I think that’s going to be really cool.”

“It’s going to be great,” Central senior Travis Nissley added. “I remember going to Hershey for the first time in my sophomore year, and we were so excited to be playing on turf.

“To be able to do it for all of our home games … it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

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