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

Raider Football to Play Only 4 Home Games in 2013

Despite a new turf field, heightened fan interest and an 8-2 record in 2012, the Raider football team will play only four games at home in 2013. But the imbalanced schedule may increase Shaker’s postseason chances.

Shaker boasts 11 returning starters, with DE Joe Henderson (committed to Tennessee) and RT Ja’Merez Bowen (offers from Cincinnatti, Illinois, Nebraska, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, among many others) leading a Raider squad that dramatically reversed its fortunes last year after a 2-8 seasons in 2011 and 2010 and a 1-9 mark in 2010.

But even with all of the expensive, well-documented renovations to the stadium, including a new turf field and scoreboard, the team will play fewer than half of its games at Russell H. Rupp Stadium.

Senior Linebacker Darien Ferguson is frustrated with this year’s lack of home games.

“I honestly am disappointed at the whole situation. It’s kind of sad that our senior year we only get to show out on our own field a few times,” Ferguson said.

Athletic Director Don Readance said the shortage of home games results from previous scheduling agreements. First, the Raiders again have seven conference games and will play four away and three at home. Last year, the balance was reversed — four home and three away. In addition, two of Shaker’s non-conference games are in the second half of two-year agreements and will be played away this year.

According to Readance, for the third non-conference game, the goal was to begin a new two-year agreement with a school that would begin with a home game this season. This would have balanced the schedule at five home and five away games. University School then approached Shaker about playing an away game to begin the season, and in the interest of gaining more computer playoff points, Shaker accepted. A win over US, considered a tougher opponent for playoff  purposes, could improve the Raiders’ opportunities.

“It was purely an athletic department/football staff decision that we felt would help to increase our student-athletes’ chances at making the post-season,” Readance said.

There is reason for optimism regarding home games in upcoming seasons.

“With contracts expiring with John F. Kennedy and Cleveland Central Catholic, we will be looking to align our schedule so that we will have at least five home games the next two years, possibly six or even an outside chance at seven depending on who’s available to play and if it’s the right fit,” Readance said.

The Raiders open the 2013 season  Saturday at US at 1 p.m.

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