HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Friday nights have always held a special meaning for the high school football community. The first Friday of the season will be especially memorable for Sacred Heart High School.
For the first time, the Crusaders will be able to play on their own turf and under their own lights when Columbia Academy visits.
"It's been amazing what's happened out here," Crusaders coach Lonny Schraeder said. "The transformation of this place since last November."
The Crusaders called San Antonio Field home for the last five years. Schraeder was around for four of those seasons.
He has not forgotten those who helped transform the school's vision into reality.
"There has been a lot of people who have done just phenomenal work to get us to this point," he said. "I can't even begin to tell you the amount of work and the amount of sacrifice that a lot of people have done just to get us here. It's a big day for the school and we're just very excited."
The new facility includes the turf field for football and soccer, baseball and softball field along with a field house.
"I don't know that I could envision it being this nice," Schraeder said. "It's pretty awesome. We're really proud of it. It's something we can all be proud of. I never thought it would look this good. It looks great."
As far as on the field, the Crusaders are coming off a 3-7 season. Schrader said the team has grown from last year.
"We're growing into a football team," he said. "We were very young last year. We were sophomores and freshman mostly. Two seniors and a handful of juniors. The rest were sophomores and freshmen. We look bigger. We're bigger. We're more athletic. We're stronger. Hopefully that'll translate into us playing better."