Cougars make do on a temporary practice field

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt Central Cougar football team discovered it had a big problem just two days after practice started on July 15. Basically, the maroon and gray found out they had no place to practice.

So, the Cougars are making do to the best of their ability in a bad situation. In fact, head coach Danny Leasor would like for the ‘new’ practice area to become the permanent facility, although, he realizes that probably won’t happen.

Still, practicing on the front lawn at Bullitt Central has proven to be a great situation for the Cougars this summer.

When Leasor was ‘rehired’ to be the football coach three years ago, one of his first goals was to improve the program’s visibility in the community. What better way to do that than to conduct open practices right out next to one of the communities’ busiest highways.

This all started almost a year ago when the Bullitt County Board of Education built the school new softball and baseball fields on land between the back of the school and Riverview High School and I-65. Well, as we all know now, the quickly built fields will take some time to develop.

One of the by-products of the two new spring sports fields was that an area just off the softball fence was to be a practice field for football. Actually, the area had been part of Bullitt Central’s old practice facility.

But, as with the diamond fields, the new practice field has not had nearly enough time to take hold. Leasor discovered that in early July when he conducted his youth camp in that area. The area is flat, but also barren and is filled with rocks and holes. In addition, there is no tree line between the field and I-65, making noise a major headache.

After two days of trying to practice there as well as on the outfield areas of the two diamond fields, Leasor decided enough was enough. He met with principal Christy Coulter and athletic director Mark Rogers and the group came up with a novel approach - turning the front lawn of the school into a football practice field.

(North Bullitt and Bullitt East’s practice areas for football are as far back from public view as possible, although, both teams allow fans to come out and watch. Few fans make the effort to get back there.)

At this point, Leasor says there is an area 75 yards by 75 yards that the team has been practicing on now for three weeks. What was supposed to be the best of a bad situation has turned into a positive.

The city of Shepherdsville even came out and rolled the surface to make it useable.

“There are still some low spots,” Leasor said.

Now, the community is turning out to watch the team practice. There have been so many watching that Leasor brought out two sets of aluminum bleachers for fans to use during practice. Fans have been honking their car horns as they go by and many are pulling off the road and watching practices.

Actually, the area where the team is practicing is closer to the locker room than the real practice field. Leasor only had to run one hose from the front of the school to provide water. Perhaps best of all, the trees in the area provide a great place for the players to cool off during their water breaks.

Last Friday, Leasor and some of the boosters had put together some PVC pipe and with two holes in the ground, had created a makeshift goal post. There won’t be anything permanent at this point.

Of course, no one is losing sight of the fact that the excitement and the fans coming out to watch practice might be because this could be one of Bullitt Central’s best football teams ever. The Cougars were 8-3 last season, the programs’ first winning mark in 18 years.

Still, Leasor would like to make the area the permanent practice field, but he realizes that goal might be a little far-fetched. The wooded area in front of the school has been there since day one and is wonderfully distinctive, something that no other school in Bullitt County really has. It gives the school a ‘campus’ feel that is lacking at other local schools.

“I would really like for that to be our practice field,” Leasor said on Friday after practice. “It will be a few years before the other area is ready. I love it right there on highway-44.

“One of my jobs when they hired me was to raise the public relations in the community,” the coach added. “This practice area is a great advertisement for our program.”

Other Field Worries

The practice field worries are over for now, but Leasor and Coulter and Rogers still have worries over the condition of the regular football field. This summer, the old field was scraped away and a new Bermuda surface was installed.

Unfortunately, what has been great weather for football practice this summer, has not been good for the new field to take hold. Bermuda grass, which is already in place at the other two high school fields as well as the fields of the youth football league, likes hot temperatures to grow. We have not had that this summer.

A quick look at the field late last week gave one the impression that it will be a tight deadline to get the field ready for the first game.

Bullitt Central will now conduct both of its scrimmages on the road the next two Fridays. It is hoped that by Friday, August 28, that the field will be ready enough for the season-opener against Barren County. The Cougars are then on the road for the next four games.

That break really won’t help the field as much as some might think. The field will be used extensively for freshman and junior-varsity games as well as the school’s soccer games.

Leasor would really like for the ‘first’ game on the new surface to be a varsity football game, but that has not been decided yet.