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St. Joe Bears hope new turf field is just one improvement in 2018

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. - High school football teams in Michigan are still two weeks from the start of their season, but there is already excitement at St. Joe High School thanks to some changes at their home field.

The biggest change at Dickinson Stadium is the playing surface, which they transitioned from natural grass to field turf over the summer.

The new field comes as a result of a three-month instillation process that wrapped up at the start of August.

It will be named Upton Field to honor the donation from the Upton family, which made it possible. So when the Bears got to practice on the turf for the first time, head coach Gandalf Church made sure they understood why this all came to fruition.

“They’re very, very fortunate,” he said. “We have some kids that have tough things at home and things like that, but this school, this community, this football program, they’re very fortunate. We use it as a lesson in gratitude.”

Another benefit to the transition between grass and turf is the speed and ease of play

The play is the focus right now, as St. Joe works towards their season opener.


There is plenty to build on coming out of 2017, as the Bears completed a 5-2 record in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference.

However, their season ended early in the postseason with a two-point loss to rival Lakeshore.

Now, the Bears return a good core from that team, hoping to take another step toward a deep run.

“We have our system that we’re pretty true to,” said Church. “Our system is pretty varied so we have an opportunity to do a variety of things in it. Each group you end up focusing on parts of it.”

And when they’re on the new turf, they could take advantage of one element Church sees as a clear strength.

“Football-wise this is a team that has good speed, team speed,” he said. “I like our speed so we’re going to try to take advantage of that.”

The Bears will hope to break in their new turf field against Battle Creek Central in the opener at Dickinson Stadium on August 24.

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