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Bulldog sidelines in a bog: Nederland practices on Beaumont field

NEDERLAND — Wretched, muddy conditions — possibly a safety issue, the coach says — at the practice field and at Bulldog Stadium forced the Nederland football team to move practice this week to Beaumont ISD Memorial Stadium.

Nederland head coach Monte Barrow said the field could be a safety issue.

“When you’re sinking on the sidelines and almost losing your shoe when you take a step, you get scared of kids running full speed and planting, trying to make a cut,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to be able to get over here and practice,” he said Wednesday in Beaumont.

Barrow said that the field conditions also affect the players’ minds.

“You can’t worry about injuries in practice,” Barrow said. “At the same time, you have to be smart about how you are practicing. You have to worry about the field conditions, the environment and things like that.

“We talked to them about that. ‘Know what’s around you when you go to make a move.’ When we get out (to BISD Memorial Stadium), we are able to think about what we need to be doing.”

NISD Assistant Superintendent Michael Laird said the field has a crown on it, which allows water to flow down to the sides.

“If you noticed during the game, the officials kept the ball in the center of the field,” Laird said. “If you look at the grass after the game, it wasn’t torn up as much as you think.

“Over time, the district has done a lot of maintenance on it. When you have grass, that is what you have to do. The downside is the sidelines collect the water.”

On Thursday, the field between the hash marks was intact. However, outside of the hash marks by the numbers on the visitors’ side had multiple noticeably large muddy patches.

Laird said turf would be easier to maintain and would not be dependent on the weather.

“You can have multiple events on turf and not have to worry about switching fields like we do,” he said. “We try to save our fields for Friday nights. Sometimes we move middle school and under-level games.”

In September, the NISD formed the Citizens Advisory Committee to tour the school campuses within the district to see what, if anything, needs to be upgraded. Laird said there is no scheduled tour of Bulldog Stadium or practice field.

“They are supposed to look at all facilities,” he said. “I’m sure at some point they will get around to it. Right now, they are just touring the physical locations of the campuses,” he said.

Despite having to practice in Beaumont, Laird said he does not foresee the problem forcing the Bulldogs to have to play a home game elsewhere.

“Football is an outdoor sport,” he said. “Of course, we want safe facilities for our kids, too. That’s why we spend a lot of time and effort on the football stadium itself.

“Our grounds crew that takes care of our campuses and facilities do a good job. The rain has been a challenge for us.”

Laird said the grounds crew has had to use walk-behind lawnmowers instead of the zero-turn riding lawnmowers because of the rain.

There are 116 teams in 5A Division II. According to Texasbob.com, of those teams, only 11 play on grass fields, including Nederland. Vidor is the only other team in the district to play on grass.

The Bulldogs play an away game at Barbers Hill on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.