Posted: 6:29 pm Friday, August 14th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
It’s not official yet, but Boca Raton is moving its Oct. 30 home game against Atlantic to a 4 p.m. kickoff. Bobcats Athletic Director Bill Massey said the school prefers an earlier start time for safety reasons.
When the teams played in last year’s season opener, two people were shot near Boca Raton High School. Massey said the incident took place in part because Boca Raton had to close the stadium once it reached full capacity, which led to an unusually high number of people in the parking lot and surrounding area.
“We just couldn’t accommodate the crowd last year and after we denied access, that’s when something happened outside the stadium,” Massey said.
“The main reason (for the change) is safety. The night before Halloween is not the ideal time to play a night game.”
Massey said the change has nothing to do with the Atlantic fan base. His main concern is overflow attendance for one of the area’s most competitive rivalry games.
Atlantic coach Andre Thaddies does not believe him. Thaddies, a former Atlantic player who grew up in Delray Beach, believes Boca Raton is moving the game time out of prejudice toward Atlantic fans.
“Heck yeah, I do,” Thaddies said. “They can say its the crowd size if they want to, but our game gets nowhere near the attendance of Dwyer vs. Royal Palm or even West Boca vs. Boca.
“I feel insulted, as if we’re a problem school. I don’t want our school to be seen as ‘Atlantic is coming and you don’t know what type of crowd they’re bringing.’ We travel well and we haven’t had problems. I think that’s very disrespectful to our community.”
The home school usually tries to work with opponents on schedule changes, and Atlantic Athletic Director Kevin Logan said he consented to the earlier kickoff. Massey said he is certain the afternoon start will reduce the size of the crowd and cost Boca Raton financially (the home team keeps the entire gate receipt), but “safety is more important than how much money we would make.”
“It’s their choice and we’ll respect their decision,” Logan said.
Atlantic wide receiver James Louis said heat will be more of a factor than normal because of the early kickoff, but he is in favor of the change if it was made for safety reasons.
At least three area games were moved to daytime kickoffs last season because of safety concerns. Shortly after Pahokee senior Norman Griffith was shot last fall, the school district relocated a Dwyer-Glades Central game originally scheduled for a Friday night in Belle Glade to a Saturday morning start at Palm Beach Central. Last year’s Muck Bowl was moved to a Saturday afternoon for the same reason.
Last November, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office moved the Fort Pierce Westwood vs. Fort Pierce Central game from a Friday night to a Saturday morning.