That there was a home team advantage on the football field at Oxon Hill High School yesterday was a bit of an understatement in the view of incensed students at arch rival Friendly High School, who were banned from the stands.
Friendly students, as well as students at eight other schools whose teams were playing at other fields during school hours, were not permitted to leave classes early to attend games at the other schools, a policy that has been in effect in Prince George's County schools since 1982.
Friendly students, whose classes end at 2:25, weren't allowed to purchase tickets for the 2 p.m. game, and they flooded county offices with complaints about the ban, one county athletics official said yesterday.
There were no complaints from students or parents from other schools, he said, but Oxon Hill and Friendly have long been major rivals. Feelings run so deep that after an Oxon Hill-Friendly game last year a fight broke out that resulted in one man being taken to the hospital.
Yesterday's nine games normally would have been scheduled for the weekend, but were held during school hours because of a conflict with the annual Maryland State Teachers Association convention today through Sunday, which coaches and other teachers attend.
Oxon Hill students, whose classes end at 4 p.m., were allowed to leave class to attend the game. About 200 Friendly parents and cheerleaders were in the bleachers. Oxon Hill defeated Friendly for the fourth straight year, 22-to-6.
The county policy forbidding students to leave classes to attend away games is frustrating, both sides said yesterday.
"This game to us is like the Cowboys and the Redskins, and we like to think of ourselves as the Redskins," said Michael Hardy, president of the Friendly Student Government Association. "We couldn't understand why we couldn't go see it. There were a lot of hostile feelings about the situation,"
"I think they should have been able to come. It's no fun. You're trying to show them up but they're not there to show up, " said Robin Green, 14, a Oxon Hill ninth grader.
"It's an unfortunate set of circumstances," said school spokesman Brian J. Porter. "But in this case, it was unavoidable."