Back-up plan in place for ti­tle games

GHSA makes move to en­sure games at MB Sta­dium

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Jeremy Ste­wart

The Ge­or­gia High School As­so­ci­a­tion has made a move to en­sure that all of the foot­ball state cham­pi­onship games this sea­son can be played at At­lanta’s Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium — no mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion.

Sched­uled for Dec. 7-8 at the year-old, multi-mil­lion dol­lar fa­cil­ity, the cham­pi­onship games are the high­light of the Ge­or­gia high school foot­ball sea­son and nor­mally broad­cast on Ge­or­gia Pub­lic Tele­vi­sion.

How­ever, in or­der to avoid a pos­si­ble con­flict with At­lanta’s Ma­jor League Soc­cer team — At­lanta United — host­ing the MLS Cup fi­nals on Dec. 8 on their home field at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium, the GHSA has re­served Dec. 11-12 — the fol­low­ing Tues­day and Wed­nes­day — as back-up dates.

GHSA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Robin Hines told the group’s board of trustees about the sec­ondary dates dur­ing its meet­ing last week, cit­ing the soc­cer club’s chance at host­ing the cham­pi­onship as a rea­son. But GHSA Pres­i­dent Glenn White said the back-up dates can be used for other in­stances as well.

“From what I un­der­stand, it’s for any sit­u­a­tion where we can’t play the games on the orig­i­nal dates, in­clud­ing what we had last year,” White said.

Rome High fans, coaches and play­ers re­mem­ber well the state of frus­tra­tion that oc­curred last De­cem­ber when in­clement weather, in­clud­ing snow and ice, hit North Ge­or­gia on the morn­ing the Wolves were set to play Warner Robins at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium for the Class 5A state cham­pi­onship.

The GHSA made a de­ci­sion dur­ing the Class AAA game be­tween Cal­houn and Peach County — af­ter the Rome and Warner Robins teams had ar­rived at the sta­dium — to post­pone the games sched­uled for the rest of the day and, ul­ti­mately, the next day as well. That led to six of the eight ti­tle games be­ing played at six sep­a­rate lo­ca­tions the fol­low­ing week­end.

Rome went to Warner Robins’ McConnell- Tal­bert Sta­dium, where the Wolves blanked the De­mons 38-0 for their sec­ond state cham­pi­onship in a row.

White, who lives in Rome, said he was re­cently given some more in­for­ma­tion about the orig­i­nal day of the state cham­pi­onships, say­ing that he was told ice had ac­cu­mu­lated on the roof of the sta­dium and was falling near the ticket booth, caus­ing a safety con­cern for the GHSA as fans were still ar­riv­ing for the two after­noon games.

With a plan al­ready in place to resched­ule the cham­pi­onships at the neu­tral-site sta­dium, re­gard­less of the rea­son, White hopes they can avoid the sce­nario that played out last year.

“That’s what we’re try­ing to head off,” White said, adding that pro­vid­ing a way for GPB to tele­vise all of the games is an­other in­cen­tive for mak­ing sure they are played at one lo­ca­tion.

“We’ve got to do ev­ery­thing we can for the kids and schools to get all of the pub­lic­ity they can,” White said. “It’s a once in a life­time thing for these teams and schools, and we want to make it as spe­cial as pos­si­ble.”

File-The As­so­ci­ated Press

Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium is sched­uled to host the GHSA State Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Games Dec. 7-8, but the GHSA has re­served Dec. 11-12 as well if cir­cum­stances arise to pre­vent play on the first date.

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