Two days before the biggest game of his season, Dwayne Henry stood shoe-deep in a mud patch and realized he had nowhere to practice.
Steady rains Tuesday turned the field at Fort Worth Trimble Tech into a mud pit.
Eventually, Henry secured a bus and shuttled his team to Farrington Field, one of three shared Fort Worth stadiums with synthetic turf.
Still, Tuesday’s wet conditions provided another example of why coaches across the city hope a recent allocation of bond money will bring synthetic turf fields to their schools.
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Trimble Tech (5-4, 2-3 District 7-5A) plays Fort Worth Southwest (2-7, 2-3) for a playoff berth at 7 p.m. Thursday at Scarborough-Handley Field. Tech hasn’t made the postseason in 25 years.
Until 3 p.m. Tuesday, the Bulldogs’ only options were practicing in the school gym or on the tennis courts.
The district’s board of trustees approved in September a plan to give each of the 13 high schools $1 million apiece for athletic department upgrades.
It’s still undetermined how that money will be spent, but Henry and other coaches — including Lanny Trammell at Southwest, J.J. Resendez at South Hills and Todd Lawson at Dunbar — have expressed interest in one upgrade above all others.
“I pray for the field turf, because it doesn’t only help me — it helps the soccer teams and any other little league teams that want to use our facilities,” Henry said. “We’d get more use out of it than having a regular grass field, which has no grass left.”
Paschal and Arlington Heights already have synthetic turf practice fields, and Heights has a small indoor field. The other 11 schools have grass practice fields, and some — like Trimble Tech and South Hills — only have one.
Tuesday’s weather put other teams in the same dilemma as Tech.
Dunbar, which plays Lake Dallas on Thursday, practiced in the school cafeteria, clearing out enough tables to walk through plays. The Wildcats practiced in the gym before classes Wednesday.
South Hills practiced in its gym Tuesday. Resendez said he had the opportunity to bus his team to Clark Stadium after 5 p.m. but couldn’t, since several players go to jobs after 6 p.m. And even with the rain letting up by Wednesday afternoon, the plan again was to practice inside. Resendez called his field a “swimming pool.”
But the issue at Trimble Tech is more than thinning grass. It’s not level in spots and was built on top of what used to be a street, Henry said.
Earlier this year, one player tweaked his ankle during a drill. Henry went to the spot where it happened and found a concrete slab protruding through the field. He later covered it with dirt. Trimble Tech goes about half-speed in practice as a result.
“It’s hard to make an adjustment,” Henry said. “Then we want to get on the kids for not playing hard, but who can play hard on that surface?”
Senior offensive lineman Juan Munoz said, “Sometimes, it feels like we’re playing on cement.”
But Tuesday, on the turf at Farrington, was different. For the first time in nearly two months, the Bulldogs went full-contact without hesitation.
“I saw guys making tackles that they usually don’t make in practice because of the field situation,” Henry said. “We were a whole different team out there today.”
If Dunbar beats Lake Dallas, the Wildcats will play Wichita Falls in the Class 5A Division II bi-district round Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Springtown. With a loss, Dunbar, which lost to Wichita Falls in the first round last year, would play Azle at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
Birdville is scheduled to play Denton in the 5A Division I bi-district round at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin.
Arlington Martin lost a home-and-home coin flip to play at either Odessa or Midland’s home fields at 7 p.m. Nov. 14.
Player of the Week
With nearly 1,300 votes cast among four nominees, Nolan Catholic defensive back Frank Colin is the dfwVarsity Player of the Week for Oct. 30-31.
Coaches, send nominations to email@example.com. Check the website Monday for Week 10 picks.