LEESBURG, GA (WALB) -
The hottest weather in a couple of years is pushing into south Georgia.
The peak of the heat wave could come Saturday afternoon when Westover and Lee County were supposed to play a nationally televised football game.
"This is a force of nature," said Lee County Principal Kevin Dowling.
Dowling is talking about the heat wave rolling into south Georgia. With high temperatures expected in triple digits Saturday, school officials decided to move the game up 4 hours to 9 AM.
"This is the right thing to do for our community, for both of our communities. It's to start this game earlier and if espn can cover it that's wonderful. That's what we want. But we've got to error on the side of safety, first," said Dowling.
Concerns from parents started coming in this week when forecasts showed dangerous temperatures, but players aren't the only who need to watch the heat. Lee County has brought in cooling tents and misting fans for band members, cheerleaders, and fans who get hot during the game.
"Anybody that feels like they're starting to feel hot or in distress, they've got to get into that shelter. Don't just sit up there and be stoic and say I can handle this," said Dowling.
As for the football team, head coach Dean Fabrizio has been giving his team extra breaks in practice but knows there is no way to be fully prepared.
"Here in South Georgia it can get awfully hot. Apparently Saturday is supposed to be unseasonably hot, even for South Georgia. So it's just something we're going to have to deal with and take every necessary precaution we can," said Fabrizio.
Right now, ESPN is planning to broadcast the game live and then re-air it at 1 PM.
Temperatures at 9 will be around 88 and it could be about 95 when the game ends.
That's better than starting the game with temperatures at 95 and finishing at 102.
Lee County Schools issued this release-
Using an abundance of caution and concern for students, families, and community members in the Albany/Lee County area, Lee County High School and Westover have agreed to move the time of Saturday's game to 9:00 AM.
Our understanding is that ESPNU will still televise it live and will also show a tape delayed version at 1:00 PM.
My heartfelt thanks go to Mr. William Chunn, the principal at WHS, and to Octavia Jones, their Head Football Coach, for working with us on this. Thanks as well to ESPN and to Paragon (the marketing group in charge of promotion) for adjusting so quickly to our needs.
Tailgating will be allowed starting at 7:00 AM, and gates will also open at that time.