NORWICH -- One of the biggest high school football rivalries in the state kicked off Wednesday afternoon and not everybody was pleased about the time.
While there were no specific threats of violence last week, the Norwich Police Department told Norwich Free Academy they needed to play the game versus New London during the daylight hours because they still had security concerns.
The longest-running high school football rivalry in the nation playing today for the 158th time, but with a much larger police presence than normal.
“There would be normally four officers here on a private duty assignment, but we have an additional 30 that we put up here just to prevent any issues,” said Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley.
He says there were issues between rival gangs in both Norwich and New London. Both police departments had officers working the game.
“New London is bringing its personnel up here. We have officers here, who also are very, very well aware of of the involved parties,” said Daley
And, they identified individuals attempting to get into the game that they thought could be trouble today.
“We did not allow some people in,” he said. “There were probably two or three people that we were aware of them and they were not allowed entry.”
New London High School’s administration was not at all pleased that today’s game was moved up from the previously scheduled 6:30 p.m. kick-off to 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.
“I’m going to speak for New London, New London families and New London athletes,” said Lawrence Washington, Athletic Director, New London High School. “Our families can’t be here because of this change in time.”
Traditionally the game is played on Thanksgiving morning, but the Norwich Police Department, in recommending that the game be played during daylight hours, to keep a close eye on any untoward activity, didn’t offer Thanksgiving morning as a possibility.
“With holiday crews it’s obviously tough to order people in and fill jobs,” Daley said. “This being a normal workday we were able to double the contingent here today.”
New London had another reason to be mad today. NFA blew out the Whalers, 49-12, to secure a CIAC playoff spot.