Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Area football teams will try to reschedule rivalry games

This was supposed to be a big week of high school football with a full slate of rivalry games throughout the bay area. Plant-Armwood, Tampa Catholic-Clearwater Central Catholic, Tarpon Springs-East Lake, Springstead-Nature Coast and Durant-Newsome were all set for Friday.

Only the TC-CCC game, which was moved to Thursday, will be played.

The rest became casualties of Hurricane Irma's unpredictable path through the state.

School districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pinellas all canceled classes, as well as extra-curricular activities, for Thursday and Friday. That means no high school games for public schools can be played on those days.

Pasco County closed its public schools on Friday and moved varsity games to Thursday.

The decision to cancel classes was made not only to give locals time to prepare but also for the schools to serve as shelters for evacuees fleeing the southern part of the state.

For East Lake, the cancellation also affected Homecoming activities this week. The school will move Homecoming court announcements to the home game against Pinellas Park on Sept. 15 and the Homecoming dance to Sept. 16.

"We were trying to be proactive in moving our junior varsity game to Wednesday, and I was confident we would be play the Tarpon game on Thursday," Eagles coach Bob Hudson said. "But I get why the decision was made. I told our guys to be safe and we'll get back on the field when the county lets us."

The annual clash between Tarpon Springs and East Lake is a big draw. There were more than 1,700 tickets sold for last year's game. Big-ticket games such as this one are important for Pinellas and Hillsborough, which operate under centralized funding that tries to spread revenue evenly among its public schools.

Hudson said he will work with county athletic director Al Bennett to try and find a makeup date against the Spongers.

Plant-Armwood is a premier matchup between a pair of state title contenders. Last year, the Panthers won a thriller, 29-27, snapping the Hawks' 38-game regular-season win streak.

Both schools are well-versed in dealing with weather delays. Armwood's opener against Tampa Bay Tech was moved twice because of lightning delays, and the Panthers needed two days to complete each of their first two games.

First-year Hawks coach Evan Davis said the Plant game will be rescheduled, though he is still working on the exact date.

The rivalries are important. So, too, are points in the Florida High School Athletic Association's new playoff system.

The state's governing body for high school sports issued a statement this week saying the playoff berths for non-district champions will be determined by dividing the number of games played with the points accumulated in the regular season.

Initially, the FHSAA was requiring teams to play a minimum of eight games to qualify for the playoffs, but the organization said it can waive that requirement for teams with multiple cancellations.

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