Construction on Sterlington High School's new synthetic turf football field is near completion.

Turf is also being installed at Ouachita and Richwood this summer. Sterlington High athletic director and head coach Mike Collins said the fields at the other two Ouachita Parish schools were ready, but a problem with the soil caused a slight delay in the Sterlington project.

The fields must be approved before they can be used by the respective schools. Collins said all three fields will be inspected on the same date.

Although the certification date hasn't been set, Collins said, “it ought to be close.”

While Collins has limited experience in dealing with a turf field, he can already see one big benefit.

“The headache of fertilizing and watering the grass is something I won't miss,” Collins said.

For the most part, the new field will weatherproof the Panthers' football practices.

“The weather is the main advantage,” Collins said. “If it's not lightning, we can practice. If it's raining, we won't have to worry about the mud.”

Turf plays faster than natural grass, which Collins says isn't necessarily an asset for the Panthers.

“The speed might not always work to our benefit,” Collins quipped.

Notes: Monday is the first official day of football practice for LHSAA member schools. Teams may work out in full pads starting Thursday.