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By Andy Reed

If all goes according to plan, Friendship Christian’s Pirtle Field will be Wilson County’s first artificial turf football field when the Commanders kick off their season in August.

School president Jon Shoulders made the announcement in an e-mail sent to the FCS community, but signs of a change to the 41-year-old field have been evident for weeks as the goal posts, sideline fences and end zone shrubs have been removed in preparation for the project.

The Commanders are scheduled to open their season at home Aug. 23 against Trousdale County.

“They’re saying it can be done by then, barring weather,” said FCS football coach/athletic director John McNeal.

Pirtle Field, which hosted its first game in 1978, is the latest high school facility in Tennessee to make the transformation to turf. Numerous private schools have turf as well as several public school districts. Almost all Williamson County schools have it and Rutherford County’s Blackman High just had it installed this spring.

Shoulders wrote in the e-mail no tuition money would be spent on the field. The project will be funded by sponsorships from families and businesses connected to the school.

Proponents of turf say it can be used in wet weather and utilized in many ways other than for football. Friendship’s turf will be lined for football and soccer, making night home matches possible for the first time.

“People are going to say it’s a football decision,” McNeal said. “It’s not. If it was strictly for football, we wouldn’t have gotten it. I wouldn’t have wanted it.”