There are big games and there are massive games. Then there are games so big that a school district decides it isn't even worth having school that day before the game itself. Camden County (Ga.) High School, pictured below, will have one of those games Friday, when the Wildcats take on fellow RivalsHigh 100 stalwart St. Thomas Acquinas (Fla.) in Fort Lauderdale, some six hours away.
According to the the Florida Times-Union website Jacksonville.com, Camden County schools will be closed Friday for a teacher workday. The day off was scheduled on the school's final calendar after it became clear that a game at St. Thomas Acquinas was likely on Oct. 1, with the school board deciding it was better to just schedule a day off for everyone than endure massive official absences among the student body.
"It would have been pretty bad," Camden County School Board chairman Herb Rowland told the Times-Union. "Look at the number of students on the team and in the band."
School pride for the game has been running high in Camden County for more than week. The school received a 1,000-ticket allotment to attend the game at St. Thomas Acquinas' 4,500-seat stadium, and $65 package deals that included a ticket and a seat on a bus to the game were selling fast.
A number of Camden County teachers and officials agreed that the hype surrounding the game would have made it hard to get students to stay at school on game day, which made the teacher workday a pragmatic decision.
"Attendance would have been down," Camden County principal John Tucker told the Times-Union. "Some of that would have been legitimate, some of it wouldn't."
Meanwhile, St. Thomas Acquinas coach George Smith made it clear that he thinks the game is a litmus test on where his program stands nationally. Both St. Thomas Acquinas and Camden County figure to challenge for state titles later this fall, and the game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPNU Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Camden County won the past two Georgia AAAAA football state championships, and St.Thomas Acquinas was the 2008 RivalsHigh 100 National Champion.
"We get to see where we are at as a program," Smith told RivalsHigh senior analyst Dallas Jackson. "You work all off-season to be in a position to test yourself against the best competition and we have that chance against Camden Country."