Leetonia celebrates new turf field following multiple delays

Sports

The turf field is part of an improvement project that started back in 2004

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Leetonia Bears football program has a proud tradition of hard-nosed, smash-mouth football.  That includes players with sweat, grass-stained, and maybe even mud-covered uniforms.

This season, the style of play will remain the same, that part didn’t change.  But the grass-stained uniforms will be a thing of the past.  Turf football fields tend to do that.

Friday night, the Bears opened up their new turf stadium following construction delays and covid cancellations.  While many schools had played three games already, the Bears were opening up their season playing their first game of the season on the new surface.

They overcame those three weeks of disappointments to make it a joyous evening for both the Bear players and fans with a dominating 52-16 win over the East Palestine Bulldogs.

“After three weeks, after the first two weeks, we were ready to go and thinking about East Palestine for two weeks.  We were fired up to go,” Bears junior quarterback Joe Guido said.

“I’m really happy with it,” Bears senior Mike Miller added about the Bear’s first performance following all the delays.  “We have a lot of inexperienced guys.  Tonight we showed that we really learned a lot from practice and put a lot of hard work in.”

The new turf surface also gives the Bears a new feeling that the grass field never provided.  The players all agreed that the field made them feel like they were faster.

“It feels great,” Miller remarked.  “First game for us, it feels amazing.”

“I love the turf,” Guido stated.  “It’s gorgeous, and it definitely helps us to play better.”

It has been a long dreamed idea to install a turf field at Leetonia.  The field was part of an overall sports complex improvement loan that was initiated back in 2004.  The stadium has already seen improvements with new bleachers, lighting, and locker rooms.  But the turf is the icing on the cake.

“No, never,” Miller remarked on if he had any vision of it happening during his high school career.  “I thought it was going to be the same old grass field.  This stuff is amazing.”

Due to construction delays, the August 19th completion date before the Bear’s first game became unrealistic.  Their opening contest with Sebring was eventually scheduled for Salem’s Sebo Stadium, but positive covid testing forced that game to be canceled.  An additional positive test in the next two weeks, plus the cancellation of Southington Chalker’s football season forced the Bears to cancel their second and third games of the season.

“Every time it got canceled we just had to move on to the next week.  That’s what we thought about.  The first game got canceled so we focused on Mathews and we knew week three wasn’t happening (Chalker), so our mindset was on East Palestine,” Miller explained the team’s thought process.

“After sitting for three weeks, it’s all about just having the chance to play.  Obviously, the surface is great for the kids,” Bears head coach Paul Hulea remarked.  “Our kids were just excited to go out and play a little football.”

The Bears are scheduled to host EOAC foe United this upcoming Friday for their second game on the new turf.  The Leetonia administration plans on holding a special ceremony to dedicate the new field prior to the kickoff of the contest.

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