The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Spectators Prohibited Due to Threat

Last night’s football game went forward without fans because of safety concerns
Tom Garfield
The bleachers remained empty because spectators were prohibited from attending last night’s game. Fans could watch the game from home via a live stream on the athletic department’s YouTube channel.

The high school will have increased security measures today due to a threat related to last night’s football game versus Maple Heights.

The game proceeded despite the threat, but the district prohibited spectators or members of the marching band from attending. The district informed families of the change via a text message sent at 4:08 p.m. and a robocall shortly thereafter. “District Administration and the Shaker Heights Police Department are investigating,” the district stated. The announcement was also visible on

Fans could instead watch the game from home via a live stream on the athletic department’s website.

“Based on the investigation thus far, it has been determined that we can safely proceed with school on Friday, September 15. Out of an abundance of caution there will be additional security and a police presence at the High School during the school day,” the district stated in a 7:50 p.m. update.

Shaker Heights Police Department officers patrolled the oval and guarded stadium entrances during the game. (Josh Levin)

The SHPD did not immediately respond to The Shakerite’s request for comment.

The Raiders went on to win the game 42-8. When asked about their experiences playing without fans, players referred The Shakerite to Head Football Coach Alex Nicholson, who declined to comment.

One player, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the team did a good job of staying focused. “We didn’t focus on anything else but the game. As a team we collectively blocked out everything that tried to stop us from playing,” he said. “We practice in that situation — with no fans almost every day — so we were pretty used to having no one to cheer us on except ourselves.”

The district said that students alerted them to the threat yesterday afternoon. “We always encourage all students, staff and families that if they see something, say something, and we thank these students for speaking up,” the district stated. Principal Eric Juli said he was alerted to the threat at about 2 p.m.

Executive Director of Communications and Engagement Scott Stephens declined to comment on the nature of the threat.

Last night’s halftime show was to include members of the eighth-grade band performing with the high school’s marching band. Eighth-grade band members, who were held at the middle school, were dismissed to their families shortly after their performance was canceled, according to a 4:35 p.m. post on 

Juli said that he and Athletic Director Michael Babinec made the recommendation to go forward without spectators because their main concern was the crowd. “We were not concerned for the safety on the field,” he said. 

Even though spectators weren’t allowed in the stadium, junior running back Cornell Beard’s mother, Jennifer Beard, could be heard cheering for the Raiders from outside the fence. Beard said she tries to be at all her son’s games. “I do my best to [attend] if I don’t have to work. But lately, yes, I’ve been getting it in,” she said. “These are my guys.”

Marching band Field Commander Zoe Stiefel was in the band room preparing for the game when they found out about the cancellation. “I was surprised and saddened, given that we had rehearsed this music and had been preparing for an entire week,” they said in a text message. 

“My initial reactions were just surprised and disappointed that we couldn’t play in the game,”  said Amber Perkins, who is also a marching band field commander. “I was also mad that someone would want to ruin the evening.”

Said the football player, “Anything could happen in a game, but I trust that we have the right security and staff to keep us protected.”

The Shakerite will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Policy Reporter Will Stewart and Photo Editor Alyson Garfield contributed reporting.

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