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Sunday, August 24, 2003



Reviews for FieldTurf
are mostly positive


It used to be 3 yards and a cloud of dust, and then it was 3 yards and a turf burn.

Now, it's 3 yards and a pile of rubber granules.

The FieldTurf era began at Aloha Stadium yesterday with three Father Bray Classic football games.

No turf-related injuries were reported by the trainers after the first game played on the new surface -- Pac-Five's 21-7 victory over Kaimuki -- but there were lots of bits of rubber cropping up above the green blades of artificial grass.

To get the stadium ready for games, rubber and sand are spread on the field and packed underneath the surface by a machine to create extra cushion. Sprinklers -- which weren't used yesterday but will be used for the University of Hawaii's opener against Appalachian State on Saturday -- help ensure the rubber stays packed.

Nevertheless, the reviews were mostly positive.

"It was awesome," Kaimuki junior running back Semi Qoro said. "It's better than grass. It's nice and soft and easy to run on."

Qoro, who scored the Bulldogs' lone touchdown, played at the stadium last year and got many shin and elbow burns.

Teammate Shaye Aso'au, Kaimuki's starting quarterback, wasn't as enthusiastic.

"Comfort-wise, I recommend this (FieldTurf)," said Aso'au, who rushed for 82 yards and passed for another 135. "But for the ability to run, I would go with the other stuff (AstroTurf). It had more grip. But maybe this will be better when it gets broken in. My change of direction was not that great."

Gyles Lawrence, who scored all three of Pac-Five's touchdowns, loved it.

"It's softer, and because you can wear cleats, you get more grip," Lawrence said. "And for the falls, you get more cushion. You don't get turf burns and it looks beautiful."

Lawrence had plenty of time to admire the new stuff under his feet and at eye level. The 5-foot-10, 250-pound running back carried 19 times for 104 tough yards, bouncing off defenders before being wrestled down. One time, he flipped end over end while being tackled near the line of scrimmage and landed -- softly enough -- on the ground.

Lawrence's fellow Wolfpack running back, Andrew Rutherford, found some daylight by making the Bulldogs miss on several occasions.

"You get more bounce in your step," Rutherford said. "This turf gives, and that should prevent injuries when you're getting tackled or when you're diving on the ground. It's almost like grass, but grass is a lot harder to get a grip on."

FieldTurf replaced the AstroTurf at the stadium in order to appease the NFL, which holds its Pro Bowl here every year.

Kaimuki trainer Nat Pada -- who also works as a trainer at the Pro Bowl -- thinks the NFL all-stars will be more comfortable when they come in February.

"I remember (New York Giants tight end) Jeremy Shockey getting a big turf burn right over there," Pada said, pointing to the southeast corner of the field. "He was very angry."

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