Give former Rocky Mount head football coach and athletic director Walt Wiggins most of the credit for the Gryphons getting to play last Friday night against South Central.
Wiggins, the Gryphons' head coach for 14 seasons and their AD when he retired, planned the Rocky Mount Athletic Complex - from its design, its layout and thank goodness, its field.
I can see an old picture of him and former assistant superintendent (Rocky Mount City Schools) John Langley looking over the observation deck on to the field just weeks before the first game was played there in fall of 1987.
Wiggins had the forethought to bring in agronomists from N.C. State to prepare the ground underneath the field for optimum draining. Gravel, sand, filtering membrane - it's all down there and it has been amazing - despite some minor problems - how well it has drained. It's been the gold standard for football fields down east.
With the help of Quentin Leggett, father of former Gryphon pitcher Jim Leggett, and some of his colleagues, the field's drainage was improved upon and the root system strengthened.
That field has a history.
From so much play on it (semi-pro football, tons of soccer matches, etc.), to the loss of a lot of top soil when it was under eight feet of flood water from Hurricane Floyd. And of course, we were all upset when it was in such bad shape, the 2002 team was forced to play its home games at Nash Central's then-new field while it was being repaired.
And we all remember how wet the field seemed all during the 2008 playoffs.
Well, that problem is seemingly gone, thanks to Leggett and his friends.
I took to the field before the game with South Central last Friday around 5:30 p.m. and talked to a few of the Falcons' coaches. They could not believe that after around the seven inches of rain in the area and in the East the previous two days, the field could be so dry and firm.
As many of you know, none of the other three playoff games set for the Twin Counties area last Friday could be played. North Edgecombe had to move their opener with Columbia to Monday due to field conditions.
The RMAC's field was about as dry as it could be. And a little shower before kickoff didn't affect it a bit.
Proof of that came in the latter stages of the South Central game when RM's Collins Cuthrell lofted a punt from his own 45-yard line and when the ball hit the field, it bounded nearly 10 feet in the air and bounced into the end zone for a touchback!
I just hope when we get our new stadium at the new campus, whenever that may be, the N-RMS will get N.C. State to set up our new stadium's field the exact same way.
But guys, I wouldn't turn down some fieldturf, either!