By T. Scott Boatright
The Lincoln Prep football team plays its spring scrimmage game this evening at Ringgold.
But the Panthers will do so knowing that for the first time in three seasons, they’ll be playing home games in the fall on their own campus.
In January of 2020, the U.S. District Court ruled that barred the GHF from operating Lincoln Prep on the GSU campus for the following school because of delays in meeting desegregation requirements involving the percentage of white students attending the school.
So Lincoln Preparatory became a nomadic school starting the 2020-21 school year, with classes split between various sites in Grambling and Lincoln Parish and athletics teams forced to play at other locations.
And Panthers athletics teams haven’t been able to play a true home since then. The Lincoln Prep Panthers played a 2021 home football playoff game at Louisiana Tech and a 2022 playoff game at Jonesboro-Hodge’s Stadium, and also played multiple home boys basketball playoff games earlier this year at the Jonesboro Hodge Gym.
But Lincoln Prep students started attending classes on their new campus, located off of Old Grambling Road, last month and the football field and gymnasium are both ready for action.
The football field itself is finished, while lights and a track lining surrounding the field are still being worked on.
Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford said the new football field is made of Rootzone 3D series Astro turf with an organic, pine-based layer as opposed to the black, ground-rubber pellets that can cause extremely hot field temperatures in the summer and early part of the season..
“It’s exciting, both for our students and for our fans,” Ford said. “It’s been a long wait and just finally getting to this point feels incredible.”
Ford said that bleachers have been delayed and the school is looking for potential options for the fall to be able to seat at least 750 fans to start.
“We don’t how long it will take to get the bleachers that are delayed, but we’re already working on lineup up and will probably have to use either rented or temporary bleachers at first,” Ford said.
A future field house set to be placed behind the south end zone is also planned to include a permanent locker room for the Panthers, who next season will dress in a large, vocational classroom not far from the field.
There is also an all-grass practice field near the main football turf that can be used for band practices and as an alternative football practice site.
Lincoln Prep’s new 930-seat gymnasium with locker rooms, workout and training spaces is also ready for use, Ford said.