Football: Artificial turf just became the majority in 7A

Coweta County announced last week that its three high schools – Newnan, East Coweta and Northgate – will move forward on plans to have artificial turf on their football fields this fall. Cost will be $5.4 million and includes track and other renovations, according to The Newnan Times-Herald.

That follows news in January that five Cherokee County high schools – Cherokee, Creekview, Woodstock, River Ridge and Sequoyah – are moving to artificial turf for a cost of about $4.9 million. Etowah, the sixth Cherokee high school, is having its 9-year-old artificial turf replaced.

Those decisions are increasingly common the past 15 years, but the recent ones do mark a milestone in Class AAAAAAA football. 

For the first time ever, most football teams in Georgia’s highest classification will have artificial turf fields. 

It was 24-24 last fall. Now, it will be 28-20 in favor of fake grass. Only four of the eight turf newcomers in Coweta and Cherokee are in the highest classification, and Oconee County is smaller school district that recently announced a switch, so the trend is not limited to big schools. In fact, none of Gwinnett County’s 17 schools in the high class have artificial turf. If the worm ever turns there, grass will be nearly extinct among Georgia’s biggest schools. The only other holdouts in AAAAAAA are Marietta, Newton and Tift County.

The artificial conquest began in 2002 when McEachern of Cobb County became the first Georgia high school to make the move. In 2004, storied Valdosta rattled the ghosts of Cleveland Field and renovated Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, getting artificial turf in the process. 

Roswell and Milton in 2005 became the first Fulton County schools to move to artificial turf, and the rest of the county schools were on board by 2008. Camden County joined the trend in 2007, then Lowndes in 2008, along with all of Forsyth County’s high schools. Cobb moved in 2010 to have all of its public high school football fields on artificial turf, leaving neighboring Cherokee behind.

“The last couple years, us and Woodstock have been at a little bit of a disadvantage with the other teams in our region,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw told the Marietta Daily Journal. “We have to cancel practice or change them up when it rains. You can’t really make up for that. It throws things off. Now, we’ll have options to make it work.” 

Class AAAAAAA’s 48 schools and their move to artificial turf, or their allegiance to grass.

Region 1 

Camden County – 2007 

Colquitt County – 2010 

Lowndes – 2008 

Tift County – GRASS 

Region 2 

Campbell – 2010 

East Coweta – 2018 

Newnan – 2018 

Pebblebrook – 2010 

Westlake – 2007 

Wheeler – 2010 

Region 3 

Hillgrove – 2011 

Kennesaw Mountain – 2010 

Marietta – GRASS 

McEachern – 2002 

North Cobb – 2011 

North Paulding – 2014

Region 4 

Cherokee – 2018 

Etowah – 2009 

Lassiter – 2007 

Roswell – 2005 

Walton – 2010 

Woodstock – 2018 

Region 5 

Forsyth Central – 2008 

Lambert – 2008 

Milton – 2005

North Forsyth – 2008 

South Forsyth – 2008 

West Forsyth – 2008 

Region 6 

Collins Hill – GRASS 

Discovery – GRASS 

Duluth – GRASS 

Mill Creek – GRASS 

Mountain View – GRASS 

North Gwinnett – GRASS 

Peachtree Ridge – GRASS 

Region 7 

Berkmar – GRASS 

Brookwood – GRASS 

Central Gwinnett – GRASS 

Lakeside-DeKalb – 2016* 

Meadowcreek – GRASS 

Norcross – GRASS 

Parkview – GRASS 

Region 8 

Archer – GRASS 

Grayson – GRASS 

Newton – GRASS 

Rockdale County – 2015 

Shiloh – GRASS 

South Gwinnett – GRASS 

*Adams Stadium, which got artificial turf in 2016, was Lakeside’s most common home field the past two seasons. Hallford Stadium in DeKalb County got artificial turf much sooner.

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