Not even a miserable rainy, drizzly night could dampen spirits at Scheck Hillel Community School on Wednesday night.
The small jewish school tucked in the northeast corner of North Miami Beach for the last 60 years celebrated in style and it had little to do with how the football team did.
Barely 24 hours after it got the final green stamp of approval from Miami-Dade County building inspectors, Hillel officials, led by athletic director Cindy Lyon, quickly got the word out that the game would be moved from North Miami Stadium over to the school’s new on-campus stadium, located at NE 25th Ave. and 190th Street.
“It’s been a hectic 24 hours to say the least,” said Lyon. “Between 3 p.m. yesterday and right now, everything has been really crazy, and we really had to get the word out fast but everything fell into place perfectly.”
The game? Yep, they played one of those, too, on Wednesday night, and even though the Lions lost to visiting Boca Raton Christian 29-21, the large homecoming crowd that filled the stands and lined the fence surrounding the stadium didn’t seem to mind as it had a new home.
“I’ve been looking at these blueprints for about six years now and as incredible as it was to experience the groundbreaking last year, tonight is just a really exciting moment for not only our program but our school, administration and alumni,” said Hillel head coach Mike Norman, now entering his seventh year. “I’m very greatful and happy we were able to get this off the ground tonight, especially since it was homecoming and you can really sense and feel the excitement.”
In addition to the football stadium, the gymnasium is ready to open as well and, according to Lyon, should be ready to go in time for the start of basketball season next month.
“I’ve been here seven years and came in with the football program and to watch it grow year after year has been so gratifying,” said Lyon. “And now to see it come to fruition with the unveiling of the stadium tonight is absolutely amazing and a tribute to the hard work and dedication of so many people.”
As far as the game was concerned, the Lions made the crowd happy by leading 7-0 midway through the first quarter when quarterback Bradley Moskovitz found Joseph Gad for a 22-yard touchdown pass, the first in the stadium.
But Boca Raton Christian took over from there, scoring 22 consecutive points to build a 15-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Trailing 29-13, Moskovitz threw his third touchdown pass of the night to Abraham Osman with three minutes left, and the ensuing two-point conversion left it a one-possession game. But after a failed onside kick, the Blazers (6-2) were able to run out the clock.
“From year to year, the kids have really bought into the program and bought into what we’re trying to teach here and now having a first class stadium to play in can only enhance things that much more,” said Norman whose team is now 3-2. “It’s paying off, the numbers are going up each year and this is the largest roster we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re at a turning point now where we might be ready to expand the program a little bit and maybe offer up some middle school and junior varsity and really take our program to the next level.”
“It was a great experiene to open the new stadium tonight but it was disappointing to fall short on the scoreboard,” said Moskovitz who finished 15 of 24 for 196 yards and the three scoring passes. “Now we have our own home, our own crowd, and more people will show up for our games. You can definitely feel the excitement throughout the entire school.”