The Maroons are covered in Mud

Steve Cornelius I CJ

Former Pulaski County High School standout Mason Helton carried the football on the legendary 'Maroons Muddy' football field in 2014. Four years later, the Maroons are still fighting the mud, and their fans are fighting for better playing conditions.

Pulaski County High School junior receiver Jake Sloan leads the state in reception yardage, senior quarterback Wiley Cain leads the state in passing yardage, and former Maroon receiver Jake Johnson holds three Kentucky state individual receiving records.

Amazing feats by three amazing local student athletes.

But what makes these feats even more amazing is that they accomplished high-level athletic feats on a field of mud.

Friday nights in late autumn usually means football post-season play in the local area.

Unfortunately for the Pulaski County High School football team, it also means it is that time of the year that their football field turns to mud. And Southwestern High School's football field at the Reservation is not a lot better.

And while both Pulaski County and Southwestern has been consistently been ranked among two of the best teams in the state, their football fields may rank as some of the worst in the state — especially since more and more Kentucky high schools are going to artificial turf surfaces.

And it looked as if the county schools were going with the artificial turf surfaces three years ago, but in a shocking turnaround the county school board voted against the artificial turf and the wishes of former superintendent Steve Butcher.

And then in a 'cheaper' gesture of 'I'm sorry', the school board spent nearly $150,000 to have the fields re-sodded with new grass turf.

The transplanted grass, from that make-up venture, has probably long washed away in the bottom of Maroon Creek –which borders the far north end of the high school's property.

Travel less than a mile due east to Somerset High School's William Clark Field, you will see a lush green football field with not a patch of mud to be found.

If the Maroons keep winning in the playoffs, they could play three more games in their home field muddy mess. And, if and when, the weather gets closer to freezing that muddy grass-less ground turns to undulating mud concrete.

About this time four years ago, the Maroons hosted their state-title rivals Bowling Green High School Purples for a regular-season finale of two of the best programs in the Class 5A over the past decade.

And yes it was a muddy mess. It was so bad, that former Bowling Green coach Kevin Wallace called it the worst conditions his teams have ever played in. Needless to say, they never came back to the Maroons' muddy mess.

If it weren't for the fact that mandatory district and post-season games are all played in the latter weeks of October and early November, Pulaski County might be hard pressed to find a team that wants to play in the Maroons' Mud Bowl.

After Friday night's Muddy Mess, longtime Maroons assistant coach Stan Andrews took to social media with his concerns about the school's declining athletic facilities by posting:

Pulaski County Board of Education it’s time to reward every student in the county! Sports in school is very important for the overall growth of our children, experts agree with that statement. Every year I watch my school taxes go up, and I’m ok with that IF the welfare of every student can grow.

Well as a retired teacher, and active coach, I think it’s time for (artificial turf) athletic fields in Pulaski County Schools. Our students have excelled in the classroom, our athletic programs excel, every year, but our athletic facilities are declining. The football fields are terrible, money is spent and they are still the worst in all of Kentucky football, go to the Maroons field this morning and check for yourself. If you think otherwise.

Within the short time Coach Andrews posted his concerns, the thread went viral with other local citizens feeling the same way about the school's poor football field conditions. And many responders brought up the obvious point that an artificial-turfed gridiron field would benefit more than just the football teams. Soccer, band, P.E. classes and many other school sports and projects would benefit from a nice, clean turfed football field.

But for now, it's muddy business as usual for the Pulaski County High School football team.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

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