By Mark Randall DeSoto Times-Tribune
When the football players and band at Southaven and Lewisburg High School take the field at the start of this year’s football season, they will be walking on all new turf.
DeSoto County Schools is installing new artificial playing surfaces in Southaven and Lewisburg, which will both be ready in time for the 2023 football season.
Superintendent Cory Uselton said the district plans to have new turf installed at all eight DeSoto County High Schools by the 2025 football season.
“We are excited to see the turf projects being completed at Southaven High School and Lewisburg High School,” Uselton said. “We are also looking forward to all of our high schools having turf football fields by the 2025-2026 school year.”
Olive Branch High School was the first field to get artificial turf back in 2020. The project replaced the original surface, which was installed several years earlier through private donations.
Both projects at Southaven and Lewisburg will cost about $1.3 million each to install.
Uselton said high school principals participated in a drawing in August 2022 to determine the order of which schools would be swapped over to turf first. Lewisburg and Southaven were selected for 2023; DeSoto Central and Horn Lake in 2024; and Center Hill and Lake Cormorant in 2025. Artificial turf will also be installed at the new Hernando High School football field in the summer of 2025 as part of that project.
Uselton said since other high schools in the same football division already have artificial turf playing surfaces, it is important for the district’s student-athletes to have every opportunity to be successful.
“With five of our high schools playing at the 7A level and three of our high schools playing at the 6A level, many of the other 6A and 7A schools around the state already have access to turf fields,” Uselton said.
He added that the installation of artificial turf will allow more practice time for other sports and activities. In addition to the football team, the band and girl’s and boy’s soccer teams could also use the field for practice if needed.
“The turf will benefit several spots programs and our band program,” Uselton said. “The band state championship competitions are held on artificial turf, and it will allow our band students to practice on the same type of surface that will be used at the state championships.”