McEwen Stadium gets remodeling with new press box

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   MOUNTAIN CITY-- The Johnson County football team hasn't made ESPN's Sportscenter yet, but the Longhorns have made the big show.
   This year, Paul H. McEwen Stadium will reflect that.
   With the move up into the 4-A Mountain Lakes football conference, Johnson County has embarked on some improvements to its field, as well as a brand new press box.
   The press box is very close to completion, and should be ready for the upcoming year.
   "They're in the process of building it," Johnson County head football coach Mike Atwood said. "It's three times the size of the old one, and it's nicer. The prisoners are doing the work, and it should be completed by mid-August."
   The press box was a real necessity due to more media covering the Longhorns in recent years, plus with the amount of coaches some of the 4-A schools have on their staff.
   "We needed it," Atwood said. "With the move up, that means more coaches will be in the press box. Most schools used to put one coach in the press box. Now there are schools that put six or seven coaches in the box, which is more than we have on staff."
   The current press box is very small, and doesn't have a lot of room for coaches. Many of the coaches stand on top of the press box, so this will be a welcomed site for coaches and media.
   The cost of the new press box was estimated at $25,000.
   Another improvement to McEwen Stadium was the addition of new grass to the playing field.
   "We had some Bermuda sprigs put in," Atwood said. "There's still some fescue, but we hope the Bermuda will make it tougher. We're the only field in this county, so everybody plays on it. With the move into this conference, we needed a to have a little nicer facility."
   Atwood had some mixed emotions about putting the new grass in. Johnson County is one of the toughest places to play in the area, and that's partly due to the roughness of the field.
   Despite the change, Atwood still thinks McEwen Stadium will be a hard place to win at.
   "That's one of the things I had trouble with," Atwood said. "We liked having the hardest field. Teams didn't like to play here. It's hard to play on that field, but our kids would play on asphalt. I still think we have an advantage, because you have to drive around the lake to get here. The field is not in perfect shape, but it's better than it was."
   Other plans in the works for McEwen Stadium include new bathrooms, and new bleachers on the visitors side.
   Atwood hopes the improvements will help get McEwen Stadium up to speed with the other schools.
   "We were a little behind everybody else, especially in the 4-A ranks," Atwood said. "We felt like we needed to bring our facilities up to par."
   With improvements happening to almost all of the Johnson County athletic facilities, Longhorn fans can be very proud of school's athletic fields.
   "We think it will," Atwood said when asked if the improvements would be something the county could be proud of. "It was needed."