Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

Don't expect many high school football games this week

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Nearly every high school football game in Tampa Bay is postponed this week to give schools — and teams — more time recover from Hurricane Irma.

Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas public schools are closed through the weekend and will not have any athletic events scheduled until Monday at the earliest.

Private schools aren't bound to the same district guidelines as public schools, so the decision to play is made on an individual basis.

Some schools still are without power, and others are serving as shelters. There also are traffic lights out throughout the region. Those are concerns, especially with some games involving teams traveling to other counties to play.

"Right now we don't have any power and if there still isn't power by (Wednesday) morning then that will make our decision easier," Tampa Catholic athletic director Don Dziagwa said. "We need to give (our opponent) Crestview time to cancel hotel reservations, and our football team hasn't been able to practice. There are a lot of things to consider."

The lack of practice time is another problem for many schools.

"It was coming down to a safety issue in football," Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson said. "Teams would have had a day of practice before playing a game, and we didn't want to risk injury with so little time to prepare."

Robinson said he is meeting with administrators on Wednesday to figure out when games can be made up. More troubling for football is the start of district games, which are required to be completed by the Florida High School Athletic Association. The state governing body for high school sports also threw in one other potential wrinkle for schools: A team can add a game to replace a lost opponent, but it will not count toward playoff points. Only games on a team's original schedule will be counted toward playoff consideration.

One possibility for rescheduling this week's games is Monday. But that gives programs a short week to prepare for another game on Friday night (Sept. 22). The FHSAA did allow - for this week only - practices on Sunday if school districts okay them. Non-football teams have more flexibility in their schedules since they can play multiple games each week and on back-to-back nights.

"Football is different than other sports because these games have to be played (under the new FHSAA playoff system)," Robinson said. "With volleyball and some other sports, there are district tournaments or meets at the end of the season so not all of those games have to be made up.

"We're going to try our best to reschedule all of them, but the reality is some of these games will not be made up if they're not necessary."

The weather delays have left Largo wondering if it will ever have a home game this season. The rubber track and sod was recently installed at the Packers' field, part of the finishing touches on the school's $65 million renovation.

Trouble was, the project got off to a late start, pushing back the date when Largo could start hosting games. Packers coach Marcus Paschal said the plan was to have the first home game on Oct. 13. The sod needed 42 days to grow before the field would be playable according to Paschal. Hurricane Irma could push back that date.

"We're just keeping our fingers crossed that everything will go according to plan," Paschal said.

For Durant, there are bigger issues.

The school was still without power as of Tuesday afternoon. Worse, some roads were not accessible because of flooding along the Alafia River.

"We've had almost an entire two weeks without really stepping on a football field," Cougars coach Mike Gottman said. "It's all about safety, though. I know this is something that none of us have ever had to come across with storms, at least of this magnitude."

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