Albany forfeits highly contested season finale at Bogalusa over safety concerns
BOGALUSA, La. (WVUE) - The Bogalusa Lumberjacks will end their 2022 football regular season early after Albany High School informed them they preferred to forfeit rather than play Friday’s scheduled season finale at Bogalusa High School.
“Due to continued concerns for the safety of our fans, athletes, and staff, Albany High School decided to pursue a forfeit with our district committee,” Albany principal Sammie Lacara told Fox 8.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Bogalusa High School administration, local law enforcement, as well as the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office to create as safe an environment as possible. However, in the end, we still felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved to forfeit this particular game.”
Bogalusa coaches were informed of the decision Tuesday afternoon.
Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said she was disappointed in the decision, particularly after all parties involved accepted a security plan on Monday that she thought alleviated the concerns of Albany’s administration and of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA).
“It’s unfortunate and it’s frustrating that our extensive efforts to address security concerns are being disregarded,” Perrette said. “Our student-athletes should have this final game of the season on their home field, with Senior Night being celebrated.
“I remain committed to the safety of our city and to the students of BHS – my alma mater. If nothing else, this situation has led to the implementation of a safety plan that will protect our students, athletes, and community.”
The location of the game was highly contested after an armed 15-year-old from Covington, unaffiliated with Bogalusa High, was killed in a gun battle outside Bogalusa’s stadium during the Lumberjacks’ homecoming game on Oct. 14.
The 2022 Class AAA District 7 Champions!!!— Bogalusa Sports Network (@BogalusaSports) November 1, 2022
• #1 ranked team in Class AAA
• Back to Back District Champs
• Finished regular season 8-1
• Currently on a 7 game winning streak
• Undefeated in District Play (4-0)
• First Round Playoff Bye @kentrahan @richiemills @FOX8NOLA pic.twitter.com/ZSGfDqoVLB
The game had been ordered to a neutral site last Thursday, following a 3-2 vote of district principals concerned about safety. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association reversed that decision on Monday after taking a second vote.
Bogalusa City Schools superintendent Lisa Tanner said last week that the relocation order wasn’t fair to the student-athletes of Bogalusa High who had no involvement in the gun violence in their stadium’s parking lot.
“That will be the last regular home game for all of our school children that have attended every ball game since kindergarten,” Tanner said.
On Facebook, Bogalusa High said new plans for senior night recognition will be forthcoming.
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Tanner said losing a home game would be costly to the district and its school booster organizations. They depend on ticket and concession revenue for much of the money they provide to support student programs, she said.
“The further it goes, the more money it costs our kids and our system,” Tanner said.
Bogalusa will finish the season at 8-1 on the back of star quarterback Ashton Levi, earning the Lumberjacks a first-round bye in the playoffs. Bogalusa is scheduled to host the second round of the playoffs, which would take place in three weeks on Nov. 18.
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