Catoctin High School administrators are gearing up for a capacity football crowd on Friday night when the second-seeded Cougars host No. 3 Fort Hill, the defending state champion, in the Class 1A state semifinals.

In anticipation of the throngs headed to Catoctin’s stadium for the 7 p.m. game, athletic director Keith Bruck has been in touch with Fort Hill school officials. He’s not lost on the Sentinels’ passion for football, the centerpiece of Fort Hill’s athletic program.

“Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I understand it,” Bruck said. “The town pretty much shuts down for the game. It’s Friday night football.”

Knowing that Fort Hill fans travel well, Bruck said school officials are trying to accommodate a larger-than-usual crowd Friday night.

“We are working on the details to assist our visitors,” Bruck said. “The Catoctin administration has communicated with Fort Hill’s administration regarding our seating and parking limitations.”

Bruck said one team bus, one cheerleader bus and one band bus from Fort Hill will make the trek to Frederick. There will also be the usual caravan of fans coming from Cumberland.

Carpooling to the game by local fans is being encouraged, Bruck said, to help reduce the number of cars in the school parking lots. He also noted if there are people in the immediate Thurmont area who are not going to the game but have family members who are, they’re encouraged to schedule drop-off and pick-up in front of the school.

“We’ve also reached out, through our school resource officer, to the Thurmont Police Department, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police regarding traffic control and overall safety around the area,” Bruck said. “We’ve also talked about putting up some signs in the area, directing people where to park and where not to park.”

Bruck does not know the exact seating capacity of the stadium. Since seating is only on one side of the field, however, there will be designated areas in the stands for Catoctin and Fort Hill fans.

“We will have event staff directing fans to the proper seating area,” he said. “We also want to make sure any elderly fans coming to the game are given proper assistance going down the walkway and coming back up when the game is over. The bottom line is we want everyone to be safe.”

At a typical Catoctin home football game, usually six to eight people make up game-day staffing. “For this game,” Bruck said, “we’re going to have up to 15 people working as event staffing.”

Bruck said tickets are on sale in advance. The advice being given to everyone is arrive at the game as early as possible.

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