Miami Central’s football team boarded a plane bound for Hoover, Alabama, on Friday morning while school officials expressed their concern about a hate letter Rockets coach Roland Smith received a day prior.
An anonymous fan from Hoover sent a letter to Smith filled with racial slurs and insults directed at him and his team.
Central, ranked No. 8 nationally by USA Today, will play Hoover (No. 3 by MaxPreps) on Saturday at noon in Alabama in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Central school officials contacted the local authorities in Hoover and the officials in charge of the game about the letter as of Friday morning.
“It was disturbing for sure,” Smith told The Miami Herald over the phone from the airport. “But I don’t really want to go into it now. I’m keeping our focus on getting these kids ready to play this football game.”
Central alumni president William “D.C.” Clark alerted the local media Friday via email about the letter and was interviewed Friday morning on the radio by 560 WQAM.
“Yesterday at practice I was informed by the head coach he received a particular letter from a Hoover High School football fan,” Clark said during the radio interview. “It said after we beat your [expletive] remind the Miami fans to pick up their chicken bones and red cups. It was laced with all types of expletives.
“It may not be how most Hoover fans think. But this is Alabama. I’m on my way to Birmingham, Alabama, and we’re constantly reminded we are in Alabama with Confederate flags, salutes to George Wallace and that old dirty low-down south many of our parents had to endure in the 1960s. We don’t take that threat or that tone very lightly.
“Again, it’s probably not conducive to how most Hoover fans feel. They are a class program. But we do know the temperature in the country with what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri, and we’re not taking this lightly.”
Central is no stranger to traveling to play out-of-state teams. The Rockets have played teams in Georgia, Alabama and Texas in recent years. Central is also traveling to Georgia next weekend to play another out-of-state opponent, Stephenson in a regular-season event along with Miami Norland and defending national champion Miami Booker T. Washington.
The Rockets have won three state titles in the past four seasons, ascending to national powerhouse status during that time. Hoover has won eight Alabama state titles since 2000 and is expected to contend for a national title this season.
Clark said the school did not want to alarm the players but they were informed of the letter in order to be aware and be safe during the trip.
“We have a bunch of street smart kids,” Clark said on the radio. “Sometimes you can use certain things as motivation. But we also wanted them to be aware of their surroundings as well. If they see something that looks funny to alert us. Coach Smith is a very responsible young man. He did discuss it with the principal. He did alert his team they are going into a very hostile environment. It’s a shame too. Hoover is one of the top teams in the country. We know it’s going to be a tough battle.
“We don’t need that type of negativity around the program.”
Hallandale at Miramar, 7
Carol City at Boyd Anderson, 7:30
Hollywood Hills at Western, 7
Coral Gables vs. Champagnat Catholic (Tropical), 4
Ferguson vs. Homestead (Harris), 7:30
Mater Academy at Southridge, 7:30
Miami High vs. Edison (Curtis), 7:30
Blanche Ely at Coconut Creek, 7
Belen at Cardinal Gibbons, 7
West Broward vs. Goleman (Milander), 7:30
Palm Beach Central vs. Northwestern (Traz), 7:30
Sunset vs. Mourning (N. Miami), 7:30
Somerset at Pines Charter, 7
Gulliver at Duval Charter, 7
Westminster Christian at Westminster Academy, 7
North Miami at Braddock, 4
Krop at Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 7
American Heritage-Delray at Coral Springs Charter, 7
Cooper City at South Broward, 7
Treasure Coast vs. Taravella (Piper), 7
West Boca Raton at Douglas, 7
Coral Glades at Pompano Beach, 7
Inlet Grove at Dade Christian, 7
Evangel Christian at Calvary Christian, 7
Somerset Charter at Palmer Trinity, 4
Zion Lutheran at Highlands Christian, 7
Central at Hoover (Alabama), noon
Booker T. Washington at Oscar Smith (Virginia), 9
Palm Beach Dwyer at American Heritage, 3
Carrollton d. Killian 25-22, 25-15.
Carrollton d. Westminster Christian 25-17, 25-23.
Gulliver d. Westminster Academy 25-20, 23-25, 15-4.
Gulliver d. Palmetto 25-13, 27-25.