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Hardeeville’s turf field makes winning debut

Subheadline: 
Synthetic grass hosts John Paul II’s first win

  • Photo courtesy city of Hardeeville The new Sprinturf field at Richard Gray Sports Complex made its debut Aug. 18 when John Paul II hosted Hilton Head Christian. The Golden Warriors won 26-20.
  • Photo courtesy city of Hardeeville The new Sprinturf field at Richard Gray Sports Complex made its debut Aug. 18 when John Paul II hosted Hilton Head Christian. The Golden Warriors won 26-20.

This “nicest” home field in SCISA made its debut Aug. 18 and John Paul II christened it with the program’s first win as an 11-man football team.

The new synthetic turf field at the Richard Gray Sports Complex in Hardeeville — part of a $587,000 project paid with A-tax funds that was approved by the city of Hardeeville last year — was unveiled for the first week of the football season.

John Paul II made the field’s debut memorable by beating Hilton Head Christian 26-20 in double overtime, giving the Golden Warriors their first win in school history as an 11-man team.

Golden Warriors athletic director Matt Dakolios is impressed with the field.

“My first impressions was that this is the nicest home field surface of any school in SCISA,” said Dakolios, who noted the field has a cooler temperature than he expected.

“Just a great overall surface.”

The Sprinturf field includes a cooling system that keeps the field about 15 degrees cooler than normal.

Golden Warriors coach Kevin Wald said he’s impressed with the field and the complex.

“Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Richard Gray Sports Complex,” he said. “It is a wonderful facility and we are so happy to call it home. I knew it was going to be fantastic but words can’t describe how I felt when we pulled up (to the field) on Friday.”

The field also includes new goalposts and Hardeeville recreation director Addison Jarrell said he hopes within two years to add a new scoreboard and sound system.

Jarrell said it was thrilling to see the field completed.

“It’s nice to see pictures and diagrams of what it might look like, but it’s something else when you look at the final product,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”

The field is part of Hardeeville’s continued plan for growth. University of South Carolina Beaufort’s baseball and softball teams use the complex’s fields and Jarrell said the soccer teams are invited to use the field if needed.

The complex is also used by the Bluffton-Hardeeville Barracudas, Lowcountry Lacrosse and Savannah’s Storm Soccer Academy.

Jarrell said other organizations are invited to reach out to him for possible use of the field. He said if schools in the area have weather-related field issues or scheduling conflicts, Hardeeville’s field could be a backup option.

He’d also like to eventually host a rugby tournament. Jarrell played rugby in college and thinks an invitational could be a good platform for the field and give Jasper County a look at a different sport.

“Teams are always looking for tournaments to go to and we have a space to accommodate it,” he said. “I think it would be a great showcase for the field and give people something they haven’t seen before.”

Dakolios and Wald each praise the school’s relationship with the city.

“We are incredibly lucky that Hardeeville has allowed us to play there,” Dakolios said.

“It has helped our outreach in Jasper County and given our players a top-notch football facility. Hopefully, we are giving them a good football product for them to showcase their field. We hope as the football program grows, more and more fans will see what the city of Hardeeville has to offer.”

Jarrell is also pleased with the partnership.

“I’m so happy they are here with us and happy that their first win as an 11-man football team was on our field — that can’t be understated,” Jarrell said.

The next John Paul II home game at the field is Friday, Sept. 8 against Hilton Head Prep.

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