Bogalusa High might be allowed to host playoff game, as officials appeal LHSAA’s relocation order for home finale

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 8:57 PM CDT
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BOGALUSA, La. (WVUE) - Bogalusa school officials said Friday (Oct. 28) that an order to relocate their high school team’s final regular-season football game is unfair and could cost support groups and the district thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

The officials are appealing Thursday’s decision by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA). An opponent school’s complaint about safety concerns resulted in a 3-2 vote by district principals and an order that Bogalusa find a neutral site at which to play its scheduled Nov. 4 game against Albany.

The decision was the fallout from an incident that cut short Bogalusa’s homecoming game on Oct. 14. A shootout just outside the stadium during the fourth quarter resulted in the death of an armed 15-year-old -- Jerry Smith of Covington -- who was not affiliated with Bogalusa High.

“The atmosphere for the game, before the shootout, it was like an LSU tailgate,” Bogalusa mayor Wendy Perrette said.

Bogalusa City Schools superintendent Lisa Tanner said the relocation order isn’t fair to the student-athletes of Bogalusa High who had no involvement in the gun violence in the stadium parking lot.

“That will be the last regular home game for all of our school children that have attended every ball game since kindergarten,” Tanner said.

Tanner said the Lumberjacks’ 7-1 run this season has brought the community together. She said the Oct. 14 violence was an anomaly and the LHSAA response is unfair. Recent violence at an Abbeville high school game did not force that school to lose a home game, she said.

“There were shots fired, one person was hit and they canceled their homecoming dance for safety reasons,” Tanner said. “But then they played at home in that same stadium where that occurred.”

Tanner said losing a home game would be costly to the district and its school booster organizations. They depend on ticket and concession revenue for much of the money they provide to support student programs, she said.

“The further it goes, the more money it costs our kids and our system,” Tanner said.

Bogalusa business leaders said moving the home game also would hurt the city’s economy. But one restaurant owner said safety concerns after a summer marred by gun violence in the city already are hurting business.

“It’s more of the crime,” restaurant owner Kinsey Thomas said. “Until our city people start speaking up and start taking action, and step up to the plate dealing with this mess, nothing’s going to change.”

The LHSAA has not ruled on the appeal against moving the Nov. 4 game to a neutral site. The association also said in a statement it was not ruling out the possibility of Bogalusa hosting a playoff game later next month.

“This ruling by the district 7–3A committee is temporary and is only applicable to this playing date,” the LHSAA’s statement said.

Tanner said a new security plan already is in the works if Bogalusa is allowed to host another game. She said 15-20 police officers would be on site and that fans attending the game would be required to pass through metal detector screening before entering the stands.

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