BY DAN STICKRADT
OXFORD — When Prescott Line walks onto the football field Monday morning, he will be considered an early riser. He’ll also be considered a pioneer.
Line, a senior-to-be at Oxford High School and a three-sport athlete for the Wildcats, will walk into the first practice on his school’s new blue turf stadium. The blue turf, which has been installed over the past four months at the school, is the first at a high school not only in the state, but in the nation.
“It’s awesome,” admitted Line, a Division I football recruit who also is a state champion wrestler and a track and field athlete at the school. “Finally being able to go out there and play games and practice on our own turf field. It’s just like (most schools in Oakland County). Only ours is blue. It looks really cool.”
Line and his teammates will go outside at 12:01 a.m., the first minute that football teams can begin practice across the state. Girls golf teams can also practice Monday with all other fall prep sports kicking off Wednesday.
“I can’t wait for it,” offered Line. “This is our senior year and we’ll have an incredible field.”
The first official event on the field will be the Oxford-Lake Orion rivalry football game, which be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 26. The school is also hosting a six-team soccer tournament in early September.
The track will be installed next week, but football and soccer teams will still be able to practice on the new surface, which is navy blue and yellow. Auburn Hills Avondale is also getting a new turf field, leaving Hazel Park as the only school in the 26-member Oakland Activities Association without a turf field inside its stadium.
Mike Watson, the Director of Athletics for Oxford Schools, said that the facility will be top of the line, but the district is far out of the woods at this time in terms of the project being paid off.
“We still have long way to go in terms of financing it,” noted Watson. “We’re trying different ways to help pay for the turf field. The track was done through a bond issue.”
The school and Oxford Booster Club is promoting the 300 Club, where they are seeking 300 businesses to help with $1,000 donations. There are 87 businesses that have come to an agreement as of Thursday. The boosters are also selling large sideline advertisements on the actual turf at a cost of $50,000.
Around $100,000 of the near-$400,000 tab had been raised.
Jim Reis, Chairman of the Oxford Turf Committee, said that there will be a walk-though inspection at 4 p.m. Friday, so the school district can sign off on the work. The football team will begin arriving late Sunday night in anticipation of its early-morning practice.
“I think this is going to be special,” offered Reis. “I think the kids are really looking forward to 12:01 Monday morning to be able to go out there for the first time. I think the whole community is looking forward to Aug.26, to be able to host (the defending) state champs in Lake Orion. We’re expecting over 10,000 people.
“The toughest challenge is raising the (funds), but we are working diligently to do this and have already closing in on 100 businesses,” added Reis. “I think once people see it and understand all that we can do on the turf field, it won’t be that hard (of a sale). We can play football, soccer, lacrosse games on it and we also will have a new track.”
Those interested, e-mail Reis at email@example.com or call (248) 820-9905.
The track, which will be a red, eight-lane track installed this week, was paid for in a bond effort, while the actual stadium was built a decade ago. The football team began play in the stadium in 2003, but on real grass. The soccer and lacrosse teams have played over at the old Pontiac Street Stadium but will also play on the new turf this school year.
The old Pontiac Street stadium and new Oxford Middle School stadium will be used as backup fields in case of a conflict, while the middle school teams will remain on its own on-campus grass field.
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