Helias football opener will not be televised

When Phil Pitts got the phone call earlier this week, there was one emotion on his end of the conversation.

“Shocked,” the Helias head football coach said Wednesday after it was announced Sunday’s nationally televised game against Nixa was being moved to 8 p.m. Saturday at Adkins Stadium. It will not be televised on ESPNU.

“They said if we have the game on Sunday, they would not show up.”

Pitts said Nixa was concerned about the heat that might come with the 3:30 p.m. start time. So after consulting with ESPN, which was going to air the game on ESPNU, Helias offered to move the game back to a 7 p.m. start.

Nope. According to Pitts, Nixa didn’t want to do that because of Monday being a school day.

Helias even offered to travel Sunday to Nixa, which ESPN said would work for them. Pitts said that offer was declined as well. It was Saturday or nothing.

“It breaks my heart my kids are ripped from this opportunity because Nixa decided to take this stand,” Pitts said. “The opportunity never comes and it came, I just don’t understand it. But this is a lesson for our players that things aren’t always in your control and you need to be able to handle it.”

The two teams first agreed to play on Sunday back in May.

“As a school, we were all looking forward to Sunday,” Pitts said. “It was going to be a wonderful opportunity for our kids, our school, our community. But Nixa didn’t see it that way.”

ESPN was willing to air the game Saturday night, but could not come up with enough production people on short notice. The people scheduled to work the game are also working the Kansas City Chiefs’ preseason game Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I want to thank ESPN for everything they did in trying to get the game on Saturday night,” Pitts said. “They didn’t have to do that, but they did.”

Angry doesn’t do justice to Pitts’ emotions Wednesday.

“I don’t get it, I don’t understand,” he said. “There are a million reasons I believe they didn’t want to play Sunday, some they’ll say publicly, some they won’t.

“We will learn from this, we will grow from this and play a great football game Saturday night.”

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