Area law enforcement ready for Friday gameday as WVU closes out regular season

MORGANTOWN — Regardless of what happens at Mountaineer Field tonight, it will be the end of another football season for law enforcement and first responders.

“You always want your athletic teams to be successful, you always want folks to come into town to have a good time,” Morgantown Chief of Police Ed Preston said. “But it does take a toll on the extra officers working the extra hours.”

For their final act, Morgantown Police, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police, WVU Police, MECCA 9-1-1, and the WVU Athletic Department will attempt to navigate one of the most anticipated games in Morgantown in years, the return of WVU students from Thanksgiving Break, and the potential inclement weather that may also come to town.

“It is night time, and it is chilly,” Preston said. “We do hope people will dress appropriately and not overindulge prior to coming to the stadium.”

Beyond the normal chill of late-November football, the National Weather Service said there’s also a possibility for a mix of rain and snow in the game’s second half and during the commute home.

“We are planning on a sell-out crowd, but with the game starting at 8 p.m. we do not anticipate folks getting out of the stadium until after midnight,” Preston said. “It’s going to last three and a half or four hours.”

With the current forecast, that could potentially cause a number of issues.

“It could be quite problematic,” Preston said. “We’re hoping that folks will pay attention to the weather, changes in the weather, dress appropriately, dress warmly. If it’s that cold and it rains, we have the potential for frost, or we have the potential for ice and again that causes significant traffic issues.”

Even if the roads aren’t assaulted by wintry weather, Preston said the rules stay the same — stay on the main roads.

“There won’t be a disruption like you would expect with a noon game with people doing their commercial traffic to and from shopping centers or going out to dinner,” he said. “Again, it will be night, so there will be visibility issues. We want everyone to pay attention to the traffic control officers to get back to the interstate.”

Extra work aside, Preston said it is sad to see another season come to an end. “It is a two-edged sword. It’s a little bittersweet, knowing that it is the end of the season.”

Kick-off for WVU-Oklahoma is 8 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mountaineers are in a win-and-in scenario to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. They could also clinch a berth with a loss if Texas loses at Kansas this afternoon and if Iowa State is beaten by Kansas State on Saturday.

Despite the loss to Oklahoma State last week, Preston said it’s all hands on deck.

“We know that (fans) are going to enjoy the adult beverages,” he said. “We just hope they don’t over-enjoy them.”