Homeless no more.
The football teams at Turlock and Pitman high schools can return to their home field, according to Turlock athletic director Mike Brown and Pitman AD Dave Walls.
Emergency repairs have been underway for the last few weeks after the field at Joe Debely Stadium failed compaction tests on the eve of the season. Turlock Unified School District officials contacted Mondo, the company that modernized the stadium in 2010.
The problem, officials said, came from the rapid disintegration of the eco-friendly infill, which helps soften impact, underneath the turf.
The stadium was modernized in 2010 at a cost of $3.6 million. Brown said the infill was supposed to last “10 to 15 years before it would do anything. It didn’t even last six.”
On Tuesday, Brown said the field passed all its tests and was ready. Turlock will play there Friday in a Central California Conference opener against Buhach Colony of Atwater. Turlock and Pitman had to find alternative sites for two home games.
The Bulldogs (2-2), who took to calling themselves “Stray Dogs,” landed at Livingston High for games against Clovis (a 34-28 overtime loss) and Tracy (a 24-7 win).
Though the games were played 12 miles south of Turlock High, it still was a sizable trip for Clovis (82 miles) and added to Tracy’s commute (53 miles).
That wasn’t the case for Pitman, The Modesto Bee’s No. 1-ranked large school program, which travels to Merced on Friday for a showdown against three-time reigning CCC champ Merced.
The Pride (4-0) faced Downey at Modesto’s Don Lanphear Stadium – truly more a home game for the Knights than for Pitman – and took on Antioch’s Deer Valley in Patterson. Pitman has used Hughson and Denair high schools for freshman games.
“Everybody’s been great, just great,” Walls said.
Had there been further delays, the Bulldogs were ready to play their next three home games – against Buhach Colony, Atwater and Merced – in Newman, nearly as far from Turlock as it is from Atwater and Merced.
“It was going to be Orestimba for the next three home games,” said Brown, in his first season as the school’s athletic director. “We’re all pretty excited to be back here.”
Pitman planned to play its next two home games at Modesto Junior College and Hilmar High.
Since the artificial surface was installed before the 2010 season, Turlock has posted a 21-12 home record, 0-2 in playoff games, while Pitman is 26-9 overall at Debely and 2-0 in playoff games.
Joe Cortez : 209-578-2380, @ModBeePreps