Brand-New Crimson Cliffs High School Field Deemed Unsafe

Sep 4, 2019, 10:28 PM | Updated: Jul 16, 2023, 4:01 pm

WASHINGTON, Utah – The football field at brand-new Crimson Cliffs High School has been deemed unsafe, forcing the school’s football and soccer teams to play all of their games away from home.

Courtney Golder’s son plays football for the new Crimson Cliffs High School in Washington. She said when a lot of parents first saw the new football field, they couldn’t wait for the game to begin.

“From the looks of it, it’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s a beautiful field.”

Often, though, first impressions don’t last.

“We’ve got ripples,” said Crimson Cliffs principal Rusty Taylor. “Ripples in the carpet all right here. You can see as I step how much it moves.

As he walked on the field, the turf easily moved around his footsteps in many spots.

Even though the new school is only a few weeks old, he said the problems are already a priority.

“I didn’t think this would be our biggest concern,” Taylor said as he showed several sections of turf where you could easily pull up a corner.

“This is unacceptable,” he said.

Crews used sand as fill to help keep the turf down, but that sand included small pebbles and rocks.

Taylor scooped up a bunch of sand to show them.

“For a kid to get tackled on that, that’s going to cut open an elbow or a knee,” he said. “We just can’t feel good about our kids being in that.”

The Washington County School District sent a letter to parents on Tuesday explaining that home football and soccer games will have to be played at other schools because the field has been deemed unsafe.

“Disappointed, of course,” said Jason Baum, whose son is on the Crimson Cliffs football team. “We’ve looked forward to this with a lot of anticipation and excitement and it’s disappointing.”

“This field is terrible,” said parent Rob Richey. “I’ve seen 30-year old carpet that looks nicer than this. It’s terrible. I think it has to be completely redone. I can’t see a way to make this fit.”

Field issues part of larger construction problems

Steven Dunham, spokesperson for the Washington County District, said they’ve had problems with the contractor since construction started with delays, missed deadlines and other issues. 

“It has been a challenge from the very start,” said Dunham. “Our hope was to have one of the safest fields in the state for our students and unfortunately, we don’t have that right now.”

KSL left messages with FirstForm, the company responsible for building the field and turf surface. The company did not respond before this story was posted.

On its website, FirstForm said, “The quality and craftsmanship of that surface impacts more than athletic performance, it also affects player safety.”

However, the school district said the way the field is now would put athletes at risk of an injury.

“Right now, the district is reviewing every option,” said Dunham. “We’re working with the sub-contractor to see what we need from them to fix this. We want our athletes to be as safe as possible as they’re out here.”

The Mustangs won their first home football game last week, but they played at Dixie State University because of their home field’s condition.

“For them not to be able to get on their home field and have them home, that’s really a frustrating thing for us,” Taylor said. “I really feel for those kids and their sacrifice.”

Many of the players chose to enroll at Crimson Cliffs from other schools to help build the football program.

The new field was something they were excited about.

“These kids could have chosen to stay at the other schools, but they decided they wanted to come here and be part of something new,” Golder said. “I Just want the boys to have a safe place to play. That’s all it is.”

Instead of being too upset about it, though, the team is using it as a learning opportunity.

“Things don’t always go your way. You can cry about it or you can figure out how to overcome it,” Baum said. “It’s a good life lesson and we’ll be stronger because of it.”

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Brand-New Crimson Cliffs High School Field Deemed Unsafe