A day after school officials postponed the annual Thanksgiving Day High School football game between Asbury Park and Neptune, Asbury Park police said they were investigating the possible threat of violence that led to the decision.
Spokesman Michael Casey declined to further discuss the nature of the violence, including whether it was gang-related, but said the school districts made the decision without the input of law enforcement agencies.
“We were not included in the meeting,” Casey said.
There’s no word on a new date for the game, Casey said.
Asbury Park Superintendent of Schools Lamont Repollet said Tuesday the districts were acting to ensure the “safety and well-being of our community,”
He would not talk about the details of the threats other than to say there is an on-going investigation.
“We received information that would have put our students in harm’s way so we made the decision to postpone. We understand the game is vitally important to both communities, but this transcends the football game. There are individuals who want to destroy the spirit of the game.”
Michael McGhee, a captain with the Neptune Township Police Department, also said his department had no input in the decision to postpone the game.
Repollet said the postponement is until a mutually agreed date between the two schools.
“We want to give the kids an opportunity to have the game, but safety comes first,” Repollet said.
However, Thanksgiving week is traditionally the end of the scholastic football regular season in New Jersey. The season concludes next weekend with the NJSIAA’s 23 sectional championship games.
Repollet read the joint statement, which was also signed by Neptune Township Superintendent of Schools Tami Crater.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between Asbury Park High School and Neptune Township High School is being postponed until a mutually-agreed upon date.
On behalf of the Asbury Park and Neptune Township school districts, be assured that safety of our students, staff and communities remain paramount. We extend to you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
The teams were scheduled to meet for the 90th time Thursday morning at Asbury Park. Neptune leads the series 48-37-4.
The series began on Thanksgiving Day in 1908 with some interruptions along the way.
Neptune’s record is 0-9 and Asbury Park is 5-4.