EAGLE, Idaho -- The start to football season has been less than ideal for the Eagle Mustangs.
"I really give the kids credit for their desire to put energy or focus that's somewhere relevant," said long-time Eagle head football coach Paul Peterson.
Due to a nearly three-week delay in the installation of their new SprinTurf field, the Mustangs have been forced to practice on a makeshift field just north of Thunder Stadium.
But even Eagle's backup plan has had its own issues. The natural grass on their practice field is dead and hasn't been watered in weeks.
"To make it all worse the pump for our water in the irrigation system broke. So we have no turf and we have no water on our grass," explained Peterson. "So yeah, it's a little less than ideal."
Heading back inside the stadium, the delay in the completion of the artificial surface also put the Mustangs' season-opener in jeopardy. Eagle is scheduled to host Mountain View, the defending 5A state champions, on Friday.
"We had a contingency plan that we were playing at Rocky [Mountain High School] because we knew we had to have the game," said West Ada School District Spokesperson Eric Exline.
With the sense of urgency mounting, progress is finally being made though, and the completion of Eagle's new $621,000 SprinTurf field is entering the final stages, according to Exline.
"SprinTurf, the contractor, they just stepped up and said we're going to get it done," explained Exline. "[They said] we will have that for you to play your football game on. And you still kind of had your fingers crossed because there was a lot of work to be done."
The field was initially supposed to be completed by Aug. 4, three days before the first scheduled practice of football season. SprinTurf is paying the West Ada School District $1,000 a day in liquidated damages, a total that has now reach $17,000.
In order to make up for lost time, SprinTurf added an additional member to their normal seven-man crew. They also worked straight through this last weekend, and have been pulling 12-hour shifts.
"They just put in the hours that it took to get it all finished," said Exline. "They just put the people and the time in to get it done. They knew we really wanted to play that varsity game at home."
Over the last few days, crews addressed the compaction issue with the sub-base that once existed by adding sand to the mix.
"[It] binds the rock filler material and allows it to get to the hardness that it needs to be," said Exline.
SprinTurf has since been installed approximately 90,000 square-feet of turf, a normal three-week process crammed into a nine-day window.
Now the last hurdle that remains is one final inspection called the GMax test. It helps measure the density of the field, and is important to ensure player safety.
According to the manager overseeing the project inside Thunder Stadium, he has installed approximately "90 to 100" fields over the last decade, and he has never failed a GMax inspection.
"I guess the only possibility that there wouldn't be a game is if those didn't come through," said Exline about the GMax test. "I find that highly unlikely on a brand new field."
Those that are involved in the project are so confident in the results to come that they are already willing to make a call on where Eagle will play its season-opener.
"Eagle High's varsity is good to go. The field will be done," stated Exline.
That is news that coach Peterson welcomes.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back into the stadium and having all this stuff that's been going on for over a year behind us," said Peterson. "We really love our home field stadium. The kids have grown up in that stadium. If we're able to [host the season-opener], that's a plus."
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