Week 0 of the TSSAA football season wasn’t just the first game of the season for the program at Gibson County High, but it also marked the official coronation of the new football stadium for the school.
While the on-field result wasn’t a happy one for the Pioneers – a loss to defending state champion Union City – head coach Morgan Cruce said the fans who were in attendance seemed to be all positive about the facilities.
“I didn’t hear any complaints Friday about anything, and it was probably the biggest crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Cruce said. “Even though we lost, it was still a good night.”
The new stadium is the most visible part of a renovation of athletic facilities that have happened during the offseason at Gibson County.
The home side of the stadium is visible from the road in front of campus and includes a middle section with black box seats with a number of red seats in the middle of the section that form the letter “G.”
The old fieldhouse has been converted into baseball and softball locker rooms with a concession stand added on to the end of the building.
The football program’s fieldhouse has been moved to a new building built next to the old building with room for 60 players to dress out with a larger area for restroom and shower facilities and a more organized area for the coaches’ office.
“We love it in here so far,” Cruce said. “We’re able to get a lot done in here with more space.”
Added to that space is a 90-yard-by-90-yard indoor practice facility area. While not the width of an actual football field – which is 53-and-a-third yards wide – it’s still wide enough to give the Pioneers adequate space to do walk-throughs for running plays. If needed, it’s also large enough to get some conditioning done.
The Pioneer baseball and softball teams also have batting cages in the room that can be folded into a small space when football is using it or pulled out for their use.
“This actually came in handy for us already last week,” Cruce said. “It got hot, and we would’ve broken TSSAA rules if we’d stayed outside working because of the heat index rule.
“So we had this place, and we were able to get a lot more done than we would have if we didn’t have it.”
TSSAA rules stipulate if the heat index surpasses 104 degrees teams aren’t allowed to do any work outside. If the heat index surpasses 100 degrees, teams aren’t able to do work that requires protective gear such as pads and helmets that increases an athlete’s inner temperature.
“These facilities are already paying off for us, and we appreciate our community and administration and quarterback club for making this possible for us,” Cruce said.
The stadium will host its first homecoming this week when Scotts Hill pays a visit to Gibson County.
Brandon Shields, 425-9751