Three days of extreme heat through the middle of this week continue to force changes in the Baltimore City football schedule even though the heat wave was expected to end Friday.
Baltimore City Schools announced Thursday night that its non-air-conditioned schools will close early Friday for the fourth straight day. That includes 12 high schools and 10 with football teams. City, Poly, Edmondson, Douglass, New Era, Patterson, Lewis and Ben Franklin are scheduled to play Friday. Mervo was already scheduled to play at William Penn in New Castle, Del., on Saturday. National Academy Foundation did not have a game scheduled this weekend.
Edmondson coach Corey Johnson, whose team is supposed to play Caravel, from Bear, Del., on Friday night at Poly, said he was told Thursday night that a decision will come in the morning about whether the Friday games can be played. Baltimore City policy requires that all after-school activities be canceled when schools close early for any reason.
After three days of temperatures in the 90s and heat indices over 100 in the city, the forecast called for temperatures in the low- to mid-80s Friday, but the temperature doesn’t fall inside the school buildings that fast.
Douglass had already moved its game with Digital Harbor to Saturday at 10 a.m. at Dunbar’s William “Sugar” Cain Field.
Although Dunbar has air conditioning and did not close early, coach Lawrence Smith moved the Poets’ game against Potomac, originally scheduled for Friday night, to Monday at 5 p.m. at the Poets’ home field. After persistent lightning canceled last week’s game with Allegany, Smith didn’t want to risk his defending Class 1A state champions losing another game.
“Baltimore City and Baltimore County share referees, so it would be hard to get referees [for Saturday] and they’re talking about lightning storms again tomorrow,” said Smith, whose team defeated Potomac, 16-13, last year.
The Poets also haven’t practiced in pads all week and Potomac didn’t practice at all Wednesday after Prince George’s County schools closed early.
“To have everyone at their best, it was best to move the game to Monday,” said Smith, whose Poets have been outside for only about an hour each of the past three days and also practiced in the gym.
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In Baltimore County, Patapsco moved its varsity game to Saturday at 1 p.m. for a doubleheader with the JV kickoff at 10 a.m.
Mike Sye, coordinator of athletics in Baltimore County, said all JV games were canceled Thursday and that each school had the option to reschedule as a doubleheader with the varsity Friday or Saturday.
While the heat also has wiped out games in other sports around the Baltimore area, it’s much easier to reschedule a field hockey or soccer game, because those teams can play more often. Football teams can play only once a week and occasionally on Monday and Friday. The games can’t be moved to later in the season.
Sye said county teams cannot play Monday, which is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. School is closed and no Baltimore County teams are allowed to practice or play.