Kickoff at Anne Arundel County high school football games is being moved up two hours, to 5:15 p.m., in response to an accidental shooting at a game last week.
School officials said yesterday they will move up start times and double or triple police presence at every public high school football game in the county for the rest of the season, starting with this weekend's contests. They hope to lessen the chance for another mishap by playing the games earlier and under more supervision. Some games might move to Saturday. The earlier start time also will allow stadium security workers to screen ticket-holders while there is still some light in the sky.
"It's just different at 5:15 than it is at 7:15," said Roy Skiles, assistant superintendent for school administrative services in the Anne Arundel schools. "Our principals believe that this will just tone things down a little bit."
Midway through a game between Annapolis and Old Mill high schools Friday night, a 17-year-old Glen Burnie boy accidentally fired a gun he had sneaked into the Annapolis High stadium, striking a 17-year-old Odenton girl in the leg, police said.
The girl, whose boyfriend and brother both played for Old Mill, was treated at a hospital and released. The boy faces misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, possession of a deadly weapon on school property and concealing a deadly weapon, said Sgt. Shawn Urbas of the Anne Arundel police. Because of their ages, the suspect and the victim were not identified.
Within the county's intensely partisan high-school football community, news of the schedule change brought mixed emotions. "I think what it's going to do is it's going to hurt the football attendance," said John Sumpter, father of Kyle Sumpter, star quarterback of Arundel High School in Gambrills.
The incident came within weeks after two fatal attacks associated with football games in Montgomery County.