The Hillsborough County School District moved its opening day of high school football games Wednesday from Friday, Aug. 31, to Saturday, Sept. 1, because of the Republican National Convention.
In addition, there will be no other school district sporting events for the entire week of the convention.
Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson said the main issues for the school district during the week of the convention were finding enough police or sheriff’s officers to serve as off-duty security at football games and dealing with possible traffic snarls when moving teams from different points around the county.
Robinson declined to say how many officers are used per football game, only that it varies due to the size of the expected crowd.
"We make sure to have ample security," Robinson said. "We couldn’t be assured of that if we tried to play games Friday during the week of the convention."
Most of the county’s private school games, however, will still take place Friday, Aug. 31. The lone exception is Jesuit, which will host rival Plant in a Saturday showdown at 8:05 p.m.
Many coaches said changing the date of the football games was not a major issue. In fact, some see a positive side to the change.
"To me, it’s an extra day of preparation," said Gaither coach Jason Stokes. "And to tell you the truth, growing up in the north, we played on Saturdays so I’m sort of used to it."
Newsome coach Ken Hiscock said he’s OK with the one-time schedule change, too.
"I’m not a controversy guy," Hiscock said. "I just go with the flow and really, this isn’t a big deal."
Other options included reworking the entire schedule or eliminating the preseason games on Aug. 24.
"Of course they had to do it (reschedule games to Saturday) because you couldn’t move anything forward, you couldn’t move anything backward and they couldn’t eliminate the games they had. It was the logical choice," Robinson coach Mike DePue said.
Jesuit coach James Harrell believes the switch to Saturday night might actually make his team’s game against Plant even more special.
"To me, high school football Saturday night under the lights will be like playing a Monday night NFL game," Harrell said. "It’s going to have a great atmosphere to it."
And what about the University of South Florida playing a home game that same time about a mile away from Jesuit at Raymond James Stadium?
"Our game will be a lot cheaper to see," he said.