ST. LOUIS — With the streets of Ferguson, Mo., still anything but stable, school is closed. But the game is on.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District announced Monday that schools, which had been scheduled to open Aug. 14, will remain closed through Friday. The McCluer South-Berkeley football team, however, is still in business. The team practiced Monday and Tuesday, and athletic director Keith Rhodes said practices will continue this week as scheduled. Moreover, the team’s game Saturday will be played.
McCluer South-Berkeley football’s season opener could mark a return to normalcy for the Ferguson community — at least to some degree. Rhodes is hoping football players won’t be the only people who use Saturday’s home game against Cleveland Junior Naval Academy as an escape from the harsh realities of continued protests and almost nightly clashes with police since an officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
"We’re actually hoping that (the game is) going to help the student body and the community," said Rhodes, who noted that 500 to 600 people typically attend games. "They have been huge supporters, so if we can allow them to take their mind off things that have taken place, then we feel like we’re doing our part."
Coach Howard Brown told FOX Sports Midwest on Monday he hoped classes would start soon, but his team’s preparations for the 11 a.m. game haven’t been affected much by the unrest in the area. The high school is located about four miles from the QuikTrip on West Florissant Aveniue that was a main gathering point before protestors burned it down Sunday night.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association requires a certain number of practices before teams can play official games, which can’t begin until Aug. 22 for all fall sports. Rhodes said some teams have had to cancel games because they typically rely on meetings at school to make students aware of practices.
McCluer South-Berkeley’s softball team missed a jamboree last Friday and won’t play two scheduled games at Metro High next week. It appears no other sports will be affected, as long as students are able to return to school Monday.