Hanover High School students have their homecoming T-shirts for Friday night's big game.
"So, this game really isn't just about the school or the football team; it's about the entire community," said Noah Kahan, a junior.
It's a game the school has already lost even though the football team hasn't stepped foot on the field.
"Any other game it would have been OK, but the homecoming game-- it's so big," said Brendan Forauer, a junior.
But they won't be on the field this Friday night. School administrators already forfeited the game after learning of an incident involving most of the varsity football team.
"We weren't able to field a team because of the number of players involved," said Frank Bass, the superintendent of schools.
They say it happened back in late August. Seniors allegedly had freshman perform skits. The school said some were of a sexual nature that objectified women.
"Our code of conduct makes it very clear that this kind of behavior would force the students to lose a game," Bass said.
Students say it's a football team tradition.
"Everyone at Hanover knows about the Hanover skits-- the freshman skits," said Dan DeRoy, a junior. "Like, we have a friend that his dad did it. It's been happening for like 20 years or something outrageous."
Despite this, students say they understand the decision.
"I think it was a good call on their part," said Sophie Kelly, a student.
As to what specifically happened Aug. 24, school administrators won't say. The school sent a letter home to parents explaining what happened and calling the incident "egregiously inappropriate." But what you won't find in the letter anywhere is the word hazing.
Reporter Steve Bottari: What was the differentiation between what occurred and hazing as you see it?
Frank Bass: I really don't want to get into that. I think I would just simply say that the behaviors were very inappropriate... We did investigate and we came to the conclusion that hazing did not occur.
Still, even with just the possibility of hazing, state law requires the school to notify police.
The school says no laws were broken and no further punishment will be doled out.
"Make sure all the students know-- incoming and outgoing-- that our school doesn't stand for bullying and our school doesn't stand for the mistreatment of others," said Kelsey Aaron, a junior.
Come Friday night the stands will stay just as they are-- empty, a lesson the school says goes far beyond just a loss on the field.
School administrators stressed that homecoming itself is not canceled for Hanover High School-- just the football game. Students say, to them, that is homecoming.
Monday, March 10 2014 10:31 AM EDT2014-03-10 14:31:26 GMT
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