MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School was scheduled to play Walt Whitman High School Friday night at 6 p.m., but the game’s start was moved to 5 p.m. due to safety concerns.

On Monday, BCC’s Principal Dr. Shelton Mooney announced the football game was changed to 4 p.m. to align with the decision guidelines outlined in the new Athletics Safety Plan.

“This decision was made through a collaborative process and is supported by the principals of both schools, systemwide athletics, the department of systemwide safety and security, and all of our police partners,” wrote Dr. Mooney. “The game will operate with Tier 1 actions, along with the lone Tier 2 action of the earlier start time, as outlined in the safety plan.”

Following this announcement, the BCC community began contacting school officials and created a petition to change the game back to its original time. This petition gained almost 500 signatures. BCC’s football team says they were blinded by the decision and given no explanation.

“Senior night is something that I think myself and all my fellow seniors have been looking forward to for as long as I can remember,” said Laith Khreisat, a senior on the BCC football team.

On Thursday, Dr. Mooney wrote another note to the community to “explain the important rationale behind this decision.” He went on to say that after collaborating with MCPD and the MCPS Department of Systemwide Safety and hearing from the school community, the new adjusted start time would be 5:00 p.m. 

“Rivalries, recent incidents of violence, social media postings and more are just some of the factors that help inform any decisions concerning staffing, time changes, and police support for our athletic events,” wrote Dr. Mooney. “The long-standing rivalry between Walt Whitman and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Schools has at times resulted in increased student activity in downtown Bethesda and civil and criminal disruptions.”

“Nothing happened at BCC, and these kids didn’t do anything to deserve to lose their senior night,” said Head Coach Ben Minturn.

Parents say this isn’t the first time a game between these two schools has had to be rescheduled. The President of BCC’s sports booster, Rex Garciahidalgo, said that — just as with any conflict — the way to resolve it is to build relationships.

“It’s a handful of hooligans that need to be controlled. yes, but canceling a game…it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm,” said Garciahidalgo.