By Landan Kuhlmann
St. Pius X Head of School Carmen Armistead called the new-and-improved Parsley Field fit not for a king, but for a Panther.
“(This field) is a sign that St. Pius X High School is a school on the move,” she said Sept. 25 during a dedication ceremony unveiling the private school’s new artificial turf field.
Upon the opening kickoff of St. Pius X’s season-opening football game later in the evening, the Panthers played like royalty, launching both the ball and their school forward into whatever the 2020 season holds in store.
Before last week’s opener against Lutheran High North, which SPX won 42-6, the school unveiled its new digs with a pregame ceremony in front of hundreds of attendees. The roughly $2.2 million renovation project included artificial turf with alternative cooling infill material and additional underground detention for future building as well as lighting upgrades and relocation. It is part of the school’s comprehensive five-year plan for upgrading athletic facilities.
Following a prayer over the field and a reading from scripture, Armistead walked around the field with Deacon Pat Hancock. She drizzled holy water over the turf with each step, blessing the field that has been rejuvenated from an uneven, grassy knoll to a shining star on the SPX campus at 811 W. Donovan St.
For the last several months, crews had worked daily to transform the field before the home opener – and the roar of the crowd greeting it appeared to say the community appreciated the effort.
“Today we – the community of St. Pius X High School – see further because we stand on the shoulders of giants, of men and women with vision, courage and strength,” Armistead said. “As our young people take their places on our new field, they will be standing on the shoulders of those who have walked this field before them and leaving footsteps for those who follow them.”
The Panthers then inaugurated the field by beating the Lions in the season opener for both teams after being delayed more than a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SPX took the opening kickoff and scored on its first possession on the new field, an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Carson Rodgers.
Rodgers, a senior who in his first season as a starter, accounted for 268 total yards and three touchdowns in the victory, while Undra Ferrow tallied 162 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Logan Tanner was Rodgers’ favorite receiving target with 178 yards and a touchdown.
For the Lions, freshman quarterback Kamare Shorts threw for 134 yards in his debut, while Xavier Neal tallied 104 yards and a touchdown receiving in the loss. Neal also had an interception on defense.