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William Penn adjusts to Saturday home games

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It's official: There won't be any more Friday night football games at Small Field this season.

York City School District Supt. Eric Holmes made an executive decision Monday to move this season's remaining William Penn home football games from Friday nights to noon on Saturdays, William Penn athletic director Ron Coursey said. Holmes proposed that change, along with ways to beef up security at Small Field, at a school board meeting last week.

These changes were proposed after two adults were shot outside Small Athletic Field during the fourth quarter of the Bearcats' first home game of the season on Sept. 9.

“A lot of us were unhappy with it, we didn’t like that feeling," William Penn junior quarterback Tallian Lehr said of the decision to move the games to Saturdays. "I don’t think the seniors thought it was fair to finish out their senior year with all their home games being on Saturdays. But we can’t feel sad about it, we still have to go out there and play hard.”

The Bearcats first Saturday game will take place this weekend when they host Red Lion.

The feeling of playing on Saturday won't be completely new to William Penn players, who played against Harrisburg on a Saturday in 2014 and 2015.

“You’re more focused because you don’t have that hard school day," Bearcats senior lineman Dahmier Banks said of playing on Saturdays. "We can just wake up, come down here and stretch and get ready. It’s more cut to the chase because you don’t have all this anxiety all day about how the game’s gonna go.”

This Friday, William Penn coach Russ Stoner and his assistant coaches plan to take most of their varsity players to Spring Grove to watch the Rockets play Dallastown. William Penn will face both teams later this season, and watching a game gives the coaches more opportunities to teach the sport, Stoner said.

On the way to Spring Grove, they'll stop at West York High School, where Stoner is one of five former players being inducted into the newly-formed West York Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday morning, the team plans to gather for a pancake breakfast before the game.

The school will also host a pregame tailgate starting at 10:30 a.m. that includes a DJ, prizes and giveaways, Coursey said, sticking with a new tradition started at the first home game.

“Most of our community has rallied around it and supported it 100 percent," Coursey said of moving the remaining home games to Saturdays. "The main thing right now is that we want to make sure our kids feel loved and supported. We’re trying to change as little as possible to make it feel like a normal high school football game for both our kids and our fans.”

Some postgame "festive activities" could also be added later in the year now that games will end early in the afternoon, but none are planned for this Saturday's game, Coursey said.

The changes to game times have also been met positively by athletic directors at other schools in the York Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“We really enjoy our relationship with York High," Red Lion athletic director Arnie Fritzius said. "We expect what we always get, which is that we’re treated there like guests. They take care of us, we never worry about security, we play the game and we leave. We don’t expect anything different on Saturday.”