Violence prompts Pennsylvania high school to move home football games

MIKE WHITE
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
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Concerns about security will make the Sto-Rox High School football team road warriors in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League playoffs.

Sto-Rox is undefeated and won its conference in WPIAL Class 2-A, which should've earned the Vikings a home game in the first round of the playoffs. If Sto-Rox won the game, it should play another home game in the quarterfinals.

But Sto-Rox informed the WPIAL last week that it will not play host to any playoff games because of worries about security in and around the stadium, which sits behind Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks. Instead, Sto-Rox will play Shady Side Academy in a Class 2-A first-round game Friday at Peters Township.

Police were involved in the decision to relocate games.

"The school administration and police kind of got together and decided it would be best to not have any home games," said LaRoi Johnson, Sto-Rox football coach and athletic director.

Earlier this year, Sto-Rox moved a home game against Avonworth to Avonworth's stadium because of some "altercations" near the Sto-Rox field and school a week earlier, Johnson said.

Sto-Rox also was supposed to play at home against Carlynton in the regular-season finale this past Friday, but the game was played at Carlynton, per Sto-Rox's request.

Shootings have occurred near Sto-Rox's field the past few months. There was a shooting near the field during an all-star game in June. On Aug. 30, Sto-Rox High School/Middle School was shut down for a while because of a shooting near the school. On Saturday, another shooting near the football field sent a man to the hospital.

Johnson said the decision to not play home games in the playoffs was already made before Saturday's shooting.

"The neighborhood is a tougher neighborhood and there are some things going on," Johnson said. "Police are doing the best they can and trying to make the best decisions they can."

Sto-Rox has played only one home game all season — against McGuffey on Sept. 10. And to think that Sto-Rox installed a new artificial turf surface at its field a few years ago.

"We're used to playing on the road by now," Johnson said. " Central Catholic does it. They don't have a home field. It's all in the way you look at things."