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After 2 Opponents Forfeited, Hope Academy To Start Playoffs Friday Night

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After being stood up twice at their home field on the West Side due to safety concerns, the game will go on under Friday night lights for the Hope Academy football team.

The last two times Hope Academy was scheduled to host a football game, its opponents forfeited, citing worries over a recent gang-related shooting near the field at Altgeld Park.

The Sept. 29 game between Hope Academy and Providence Catholic was interrupted, and players were forced to hit the ground and take cover, after someone in a vehicle shot and wounded a 36-year-old man just south of the park.

St. Francis High School in Wheaton forfeited their game at Hope Academy the next week, and two weeks later Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee also said it wouldn't come to Altgeld Park for its game.

Friday night's opponent, Orr Academy High School, has said they will be there for the game, and Chicago police have said there will be increased patrols in the area.

"Let's not have all these different distractions, and different things outside of football have us not do what we love, and that's play the game," Hope Academy player Jordan Garcia said.

Hope Academy President Bob Muzikowski has said he isn't upset at St. Francis or Bishop McNamara schools for forfeiting their games.

"They are not the issue," he said last week. "The issue is the gutless cowards who drive around in cars shooting at people, and it's got to stop."

Activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger, however, has called the two Catholic schools' decision to forfeit "unacceptable."

"AS a Catholic and as a Catholic Priest I am both embarrassed and outraged by Bishop McNamara and St. Francis High Schools that Cancelled their Football Games and REFUSED to play at HOPE ACADEMY because of Safety Concerns...I went thru this some years ago with The Southside Catholic Basketball Conference....This is unacceptable and why our Children grow up with Fears and Stereotypes.....And you dare to call yourselves Christians?????," Pfleger wrote on Facebook last week.

Friday night's game was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. It's the first playoff game for the Hope Academy Eagles and the Orr Academy Spartans.

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