El Camino Real football’s turf field still untouched after deemed dangerous, unplayable

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The saga continues at El Camino Real Charter High School.

Football coach Jason Sabolic confirmed Wednesday the team will not host any games on campus this season, not even in the playoffs, due to the school’s unplayable turf field.

“It’s been happening for the past year or so,” Sabolic explained. “But it got worse this past summer with the heat.”

When the summer heat reached scorching temperatures – a regularity in the San Fernando Valley – the turf would melt.

“The rubber would literally stick to the bottom of their cleats. Players and coaches were using screwdrivers to pick the melted rubber off the bottom of cleats and shoes,” Sabolic said.

If that’s not bad enough, the surface gets dangerous during cold weather, which happens in late October and November, and certainly during soccer season in the winter.

“It turns into an ice skating rink. It’s slippery and slick. It’s not safe,” Sabolic added.

El Camino Real head football coach Jason Sabolic looks on against Cleveland Friday night. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

El Camino Real girls soccer coach Eric Choi said the team is practicing on the blacktop right now in preparation for its season and is going to play its home matches on the turf field at the Sepulveda Basin.

“If football is still playing when we start our season, we’ll have to get lights out onto the baseball field and practice at night,” Choi said.

The district came to look at the field in early August and has not been back since, according to Sabolic. The field has yet to be worked on this fall.

Though El Camino Real is a charter school, the property is owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which means it could be a while before the field is redone. Sabolic said the field is still under warranty and it will be the second time in seven years the field will need to be re-turfed.

ROAD WARRIORS

It’s forced the football team to play every game on the road this season. El Camino Real, which recently changed its mascot to the Royals (from Conquistadores), has embraced an even newer name: ‘The El Camino Real Road Warriors’.

The team practices on the baseball field in the outfield. Varsity in left field and junior varsity in right field.

“I go through about eight spray cans of paint every three days painting lines in the outfield,” Sabolic said.

El Camino Real (4-3), which is on a four-game winning streak, including two straight West Valley League victories over Cleveland and Chatsworth, will play its final three games of the regular season as the designated home team, but away from campus.

This Friday’s game West Valley League contest against Taft will be played at Cleveland High. Next Friday’s game on October 21 will be the school’s homecoming game against Birmingham Charter at Oak Park High, and the team’s final game on Thursday, October 27, will be against Granada Hills at Granada Hills.

“The team has completely embraced the challenge,” Sabolic said. “I told them we need to adapt or die.”

El Camino Real won the City Section Division II title last year with a 37-18 win over Hamilton in the final. ECR is likely to earn a Division I playoff berth in November.

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