Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
BAINBRIDGE — Directly after putting the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season on Oct. 26, Paint Valley’s football program learned it had earned the right to host a home playoff game this past fall.
The top-seeded Bearcats were set to host Grandview Heights in a Division VI, Region 23 quarterfinal on Nov. 2 … until they weren’t.
Wet, muddy field conditions forced the OHSAA to move the contest to Chillicothe’s Herrnstein Field, which features a turf playing surface and one that even heavy rain has little effect on.
The Bearcats beat the Bobcats 39-36, but instead of doing so in front of a true home crowd and in familiar surroundings, they did so at a neutral site.
After the decision made by Paint Valley’s Board of Education Monday evening, that situation won’t be happening again.
The BOE unanimously voted to approve a turf and track installation project, one that includes a new digital scoreboard, that will cost just under $1 million.
The project will start mid-April and is scheduled to be finished by the end of June.
“This is something for the next generation,” Paint Valley Athletic Director Pete Hollon said. “It doesn’t happen all the time, especially for a small, rural school with limited business opportunities in our area. I can’t say enough about those businesses that have stepped up and really pushed this forward. This will serve generations down the line, long after myself and the current administration is gone.”
AstroTurf, a nationwide company and a part of the SportGroup, has been pegged to head up the project in conjunction with local firm G&J Paving — which will handle excavation, drainage work, and foundation, among other things.
Rock Hill’s turf playing surface was also handled by AstroTurf. This past week, Hollon and school officials made a visit.
“We had bids from three different companies and we felt really comfortable with [AstroTurf’s] personalization of everything,” Hollon said. “We went to Rock Hill this past week and really liked the natural turf we saw.”
While the relocated playoff football game had an effect on the BOE’s decision, Paint Valley’s Week 10 matchup with Adena got the ball rolling.
With a 16-3 win over the Warriors in what they call the “Mud Bowl,” the Bearcats won a Gold Ball that night.
“We obviously lost our home playoff game this past year and that turned the wheel,” Hollon said. “But it was a combination of a lot of bad things that happened. Most of the grass was ate after our Week 10 game with Adena. It’s awful to have to play a championship game like that. Neither team played their best football that night.”
Of course, it won’t be just the football program that benefits from the upgrades. Hollon also mentioned the band, and the track and field teams — who have had much success over the past few springs.
“It’s something that we’re excited about,” Hollon said. “The biggest win for me will be when I meet with my players and show them what we’ve got ready for them. For me right now, our greatest win is to be able to pay it forward. My great, great nephews and grandkids can play on that field one day. Our kids here are really, really special. So, why not Paint Valley?”