HEISER: York High will likely make sad, but right, call

Steve Heiser, 505-5446/@ydsports
  • Two men were shot in the Small Field parking lot on Friday night.
  • The incident occurred during the fourth quarter of York High's football game vs. Lancaster McCaskey.
  • A recommendation has been made to play York High's remaining home games at noon Saturdays.

There's nothing quite like high school football on a Friday night.

It's been the subject of wildly popular books, movies and television shows.

A police officer prepares to lift the caution tape to let people leave as it begins to rain during a shooting investigation outside Small Athletic Field on Friday in York City. The shooting happened during the fourth quarter of a football game between York High and Lancaster McCaskey. Two people were shot and hospitalized. Amanda J. Cain photo

And it's not just about football, either.

Not hardly.

The band belting out the fight song, the cheerleaders turning cartwheels after touchdowns and the fans jumping for joy after dramatic victories are all integral parts of the show.

The pageantry, the excitement and the sense of community are palpable.

That kind of atmosphere simply can't be reproduced on a Saturday afternoon.

That's why Friday-night crowds are almost always significantly larger and more boisterous than those at Saturday games.

It also doesn't hurt that there are almost zero college or pro football games held on Fridays. High school football, in a very real way, owns Friday nights.

Not surprisingly, over the decades, the number of teams playing Saturday day games has slowly dwindled. In York County, York Tech is the final holdout to regularly play its home games on Saturday afternoons.

Until now.

Likely move to Saturdays: It looks as if the York High Bearcats will play their four remaining 2016 home games at noon on Saturdays.

That administration's recommendation hasn't officially been approved by the city school board, but all signs point to that happening.

Given the lamentable events that occurred Friday night, that would be a prudent decision.

By now, everyone is aware of the sad incident that occurred in the Small Field parking lot during the fourth quarter of Friday night's game against longtime rival Lancaster McCaskey. An argument broke out in the stadium during the game, and those involved were ejected. The dispute continued in the parking lot and eventually turned violent, ending with two men shot and hospitalized.

The stadium was on lockdown for 20 minutes, and the game was ended prematurely with York High losing, 26-6.

Now, in order to address heightened security concerns, it appears that the remaining Bearcats home games will have noon Saturday starts.

The safety of the fans, players and officials should absolutely be the No. 1 priority. And there's no real debating that it's easier to keep folks secure during the daylight hours.

It's the right move.

Still, it's a heartbreaking decision to have to make.

Trying to rebuild Bearcats program: York High is trying to rebuild a once-pround Bearcats program. The school has a new football coach (Russ Stoner), a new athletic director (Ronald Coursey) and a new enthusiasm.

The Bearcats are 0-2 this season, but they have been more competitive than they were during last year's 0-10 campaign. Under Stoner, the team's roster has grown. Under Coursey, the school is trying to emphasize academics throughout the athletic program. And Friday's crowd against McCaskey was reportedly one of the largest in recent history.

It appeared as if Friday nights at Small Field were again becoming something special.

Now all that hard work has been stalled by the reprehensible actions of a few.

Unfortunately, the folks who will suffer most in this depressing situation are the kids.

The players, the cheerleaders and the band members will be denied the unmatched excitement of football Friday nights.

Instead, they'll likely be faced with smaller crowds, less excitement and increased security.

Proposal: Move York High games to Saturday at noon

The York High community will almost certainly rally around their school and try to make the Saturday-afternoon games as exhilarating as possible.

In the long run, however, it will be nearly impossible to consistently match the compelling atmosphere of a football Friday night.

That's a sad state of affairs for everyone involved, but especially for the teenagers, who will be denied the lifetime memories that are often forged on football Friday nights.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.