By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editor 

St. Frances Academy’s football team will prepare to take on opponents from all over the U.S. as a part of a national schedule after most of its neighboring schools in Baltimore refused to play against them this upcoming season.

As a member of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, St. Frances is required to compete against other private/Catholic schools in the region, such as Mount St. Joe, McDonogh, Calvert Hall, Loyola Blakefield or Archbishop Spalding. Yet all five schools announced over the past week that they won’t allow their football teams to face St. Frances, citing safety concerns.

St. Frances Academy (Courtesy Photo via Twitter)

St. Frances principal Dr. Curtis Turner had initially accused the schools last week of withdrawing for racially motivated reasons. But Turner said in a joint statement with Calvert Hall’s president Wednesday that he now understands the decision was made only for the safety of players.

“Through this collegial dialogue, St. Frances understands that Calvert Hall’s decision with respect to football was based solely on concerns for the safety of its students,” the joint statement read. “Equally, Calvert Hall understands that St. Frances is advancing their football program to a national level and wishes them success competing at that level. Both schools affirm the common Catholic Mission they share in the education of young people. Both schools desire to continue to compete in sports other than football and explore other ways in which to collaboratively fulfill their common goal of fostering the spiritual, physical and academic development of their students.”

St. Frances’ football team has developed into one of the best in the country since hiring head coach Biff Poggi last year; it was ranked fourth best nationally by USA Today, deploying athletes that are bigger, stronger and faster than the players of the other competing MIAA schools.

Poggi was also initially critical of the other MIAA schools for canceling their matchups with St. Frances this season. But he too had a change of heart Wednesday.

“The schools that are making those decisions, they know their kids best,” said Poggi during an interview with Baltimore radio station WBAL. “We have a really good team. We’ve got some really big kids. The kids play hard, play fair and football’s a game where when you bring the safety issue into it. … You can’t fault someone for feeling that their kids might be in a situation where they’re not as prepared to play or they might be injured. … Everyone should know that football is a game that you cannot control those things and if a school really feels that way, then I support them.”

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor