Last weekend's rain resulted in a total wash in the Peninsula District, which led to four games being played on Monday night. Which led to three games being pushed back the following week because of a short turnaround.
Meanwhile, the games went on at Bailey Field and Wanner Stadium, both of which have synthetic grass surfaces. The two Bay Rivers District games that were rained out Friday night — New Kent-Warhill and Smithfield-Lafayette, both originally set for natural grass fields — were made up Saturday … at Wanner.
Such is the advantage of having field turf, which can take a pounding from the elements and look like nothing happened. The disadvantage, of course, is the cost, which can be in the $800,000 neighborhood.
More and more stadiums, from the professional level on down, are switching to synthetic grass. But neither Darling nor Todd stadiums, where everyone in the Peninsula District but Gloucester plays its home games, has any plans to join them.
"It's a whole bunch of different reasons," said Beth Mair, coordinator of athletics for Hampton City Schools. "At this point in time, we just want to focus on things other than turf for Darling Stadium."
Dick Tyson, Mair's counterpart with Newport News Public Schools, said the same.
"Times are tight," he said, "and we just can't do it."
Hampton, you recall, made plans to install turf prior to the 2008 season. Architects designed the field and underground system, and work was scheduled to begin in June. But it never happened, and Darling — like Todd — remains natural grass with no plans to change.
The coaches would like to see that change.
"I think we should do it, and I've thought so for quite a while," Woodside coach Danny Dodson said. "As much play as the fields get, and in situations like this when we get so much rain, it's so much better for everybody.
"We played Monday night, and now we're playing Saturday. That's a tough turnaround. If we had field turf, we'd have been able to play every one of our games (last) week."
Phoebus coach Stan Sexton believes it would be better for the players' overall health and safety.
"You get into a routine and get used to four days of practice," he said. "They're used to having days off so their bodies can heal. Now, we're in a situation where that can't occur. My big concern now is injuries and the kids not being able to go through the healing process."
The Bay Rivers has Bailey Field (home to York, Tabb and Grafton), Wanner Stadium (Jamestown, Warhill and Lafayette) and Poquoson Middle School (where the Islanders play). That's seven of the BRD's members who play mostly on synthetic grass.
"I'm a big fan," Poquoson athletic director Ken Bennett said of field turf. "It's saved us some rescheduling of events and allowed us not to worry about the weather, unless there's thunder and lightning. … And I think it's safer, whether it's wet or dry, because you get less ankle turns."
Todd Stadium just underwent a $1.24 million renovation project that included a new track and a re-sodded Bermuda grass field. Adding turf, Tyson said, would have made the final price tag too high.
"We'd love to have it, we truly would," Tyson said. "We think it would be a good thing. But I also know some of our coaches who'd rather play on good old sod."
While there are obvious advantages, including less maintenance, turf is not all good news. Synthetic grass can get incredibly hot in the summer months (like September, when the season begins).
And while some believe turf is a permanent fix, it isn't. It has a shelf life of 10 to 15 years, depending on quality and amount of wear and tear.
As for last week's rain, Tyson said the reason the games were postponed was because the sod has just been planted. Had it been a year from now, he maintained, the field would have had no problem handling the rain.
"Let's put it this way: We just birthed it," he said. "When it's a teenager, it'll be all right. And it'll be a teenager next year."
Mair said the only reason Friday's game between Hampton and Woodside was postponed was because of tornado warnings. The week before, officials postponed the Kecoughtan-Phoebus Thursday night game because of lightning. It was played the following Saturday in a steady rain.
"We'll never cancel for just rain," Mair said. "We never have an issue with the field. The guys always have it in the best condition."
Still, the only reason Darling and Todd don't have turf is the expense. Hampton coach Mike Smith wonders if local businesses would be interested in making a donation for naming rights.
"There are enough companies around here," he said. "And with Hampton and Newport News, you could probably get help from the shipyard. Most employees have kids who are playing."
Or what about help from former PD players now making mega-bucks in the NFL?
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (Warwick) just signed a six-year contract worth $100 million, $40 million of which is guaranteed. New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (Kecoughtan) is in the fourth of five-year contract worth nearly $19 million.
However it happens, PD coaches would welcome it.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun