Andover High School will still have football as part of its final homecoming festivities in school history next month, just not the type of football you're accustomed to for the fall tradition.
School officials confirmed the Barons boy's varsity soccer team will host a special Friday night game against Royal Oak on Oct. 12. The contest restores an athletic component to the school's annual homecoming festivities, which was in doubt when Andover disbanded its football season because of a lack of able-bodied players.
The significance can't be understated, according to R.J. Guizzetti, Andover's athletic coordinator, who scrambled for several days to find a divisional road opponent willing to change their schedule to accommodate the special situation. It's the first time soccer — known globally as football because of how it's played — will be featured at homecoming in school history. And it also restores much of the homecoming experience one final time due to the pending merger with Lahser to Bloomfield Hills High School in 2013.
The decision was extremely difficult, but made, ultimately, to help protect the players. Only a dozen showed up for practices after the third blowout loss of the season, and safety became a serious concern, he said.
"We were devastated when we had to cancel our football season, and one of the things we were most upset about was the loss of the final Andover homecoming game," Guizzetti said. "This is a great opportunity for us to continue the homecoming tradition and give our students the chance to celebrate."
The game begins at 7 p.m., and Guizzetti said the staff, coaches, and volunteers plan to do as much of the traditional homecoming activities as possible, including performances by the marching band, cheerleaders and poms team at halftime.
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