ADAMS — Area high school football teams opened camp Monday, two weeks and four days before the beginning of the 2019 season.
For South Jefferson, the start of 2019 represents the beginning of a new era for Spartan football.
Not only will the Spartans be moving from the Developmental League to Section 3 Class B, they will be playing their home games on a brand new turf field that has been erected at the high school.
The South Jefferson football team spent its first day of practice working out in the grass field adjacent to the baseball fields while the finishing touches are put on the new turf complex across the parking lot.
Spartans coach Aaron Rivers believes his team will be able to begin practicing on the turf come next week and will be able to play all of its home games on its new field.
South Jefferson now joins Carthage, Indian River, Watertown, Lowville, General Brown, Beaver River and Thousand Islands as Frontier League schools with turf athletic fields.
Jackson Worden is a linebacker for the Spartans and excited to play his senior season on the new field.
“Oh, don’t even get me started it’s amazing,” Worden said. “It’s just great to actually have a turf field and to not play on a field that is all lumpy.”
The new turf field, while not made solely to serve the football team, is just the latest example of the emphasis placed on the football team by the school district.
With around 30 players now on the roster ahead of the 2019 season, Rivers and some of his players have seen a rise in interest in the program. Finishing last season at 8-1 overall and winning the Developmental League championship also contributed to that.
Football won’t be the only sport to benefit from the new complex.
Boys and girls soccer, along with boys and girls lacrosse and other sports, will now be calling the turf field their new home.
According to South Jefferson Athletic Director Jay Wiley, it was important to him and all the coaches that the field equally represented all sports.
“When you come up there it doesn’t have the big graphics in the end zones, it’s a multi-facility turf field and we wanted to make it look like that,” Wiley said.
“One sport is not dominating it. If you look at the lines, one sport is not dominating all the other ones. And that’s the way the coaches on the committee wanted it, they wanted it to be a multi-purpose field.”
Wiley hopes that the improvement in facility will drive up student participation in sports.
“Hopefully the kids will see the facility and then want the chance to play on it,” Wiley said.
The project is part of an overall initiative to improve some of the athletic facilities in the South Jefferson Central School District that will cost $7.2 million. Voters approved the project in May 2017.
The Spartans will play their first game on the new turf field in week two on Sept. 13 versus Class B West Division opponent Solvay.