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Pinellas football plan a wash after second serious storm

Maybe Hillsborough County had the right idea.

When the first of four hurricanes swept through the area and canceled the first week of the high school football season, Hillsborough bid farewell to those games and moved on to Week 2.

But Pinellas County athletic director Walter Weller came up with a brilliant idea _ let's move Week 1 (maybe the season's most attractive and financially beneficial batch of games) to Week 2, move Week 2's games to a Tuesday down the road, and voila!

Unfortunately for the innovative and determined Weller, down the road was tonight.

Even Weller's best laid plans could not foresee another hurricane. His solution _ a Tuesday-Saturday schedule this week _ was rendered moot by Jeanne, providing more headaches and sending him into another planning frenzy all day Sunday.

Without many options, Weller came up with this: games scheduled tonight now will be played Friday, and Saturday's games (which were moved from Week 2 to make room for Week 1) will be pushed to Week 11.

Okay, so Week 11 of the regular season doesn't technically exist. But Weller hopes it might, as the Florida High School Athletics Association has been lobbied hard to extend the season by a week.

If the FHSAA resists and the playoffs begin as scheduled, then county teams that qualify obviously move on.

During the first postseason week, a rescheduled game involving two Pinellas teams that miss the playoffs can be played.

Oh, and teams that have a rescheduled game against a team that did make the playoffs? They won't play at all. Unless they decide to make it up earlier.

Another possibility: teams that were playing playoff teams could play each other instead, though the FHSAA is cool to that idea.

So, got all that?

It's a mess that needs a heavy clean up. Weller said about 30 county public schools were without power late Monday, and Florida Power could not say when they would be back up.

It's not just football. Today's slate of golf, volleyball and the 10-team St. Petersburg City Championships cross country meet at Crescent Lake Park also were postponed.

Weller said the county again will ask the FHSAA to extend the season by a week, but for all sports. The FHSAA was to address that this weekend, but the meeting was postponed.

By a hurricane, naturally.

GOODBYE, GCAC: The decision by Citrus County schools to kill the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference is not popular, except with penny-pinching school administrators.

The decision to leave the GCAC was made by the principals and athletic directors at Crystal River, Citrus and Lecanto, along with Dave Stephens, who is in charge of athletics for the school system. A month into the fall sports season, Citrus bailed without even consulting the four Hernando County schools that make up the rest of the conference.

Blaming the cost ($2,000 annually) and saying they did not like the voting (Hernando schools had a 4-3 edge), Citrus schools killed off a conference that provided athletes with something to play for. Face it, Hernando and Citrus counties aren't going to produce a lot of state contenders, and the GCAC always was a nice prize, if not the prize, for many athletes.

"Whether people readily accept it or not, rarely do our teams excel on a state level," Central AD and boys basketball coach John Sedlack said. "When you look at most of the banners hanging in these gyms, you'll see conference banners. It gave our kids a championship to fight for."

Some parents have taken up the fight, though it appears officials in Citrus County think conferences are a waste of time and outdated.

The problem, though, might be more this: ADs who aren't in touch with what kids want, or aren't creative enough to find another solution (business sponsorships, activity fee, etc.), falling back on an easy and ill-timed decision.

_ Compiled by Times staff writers John C. Cotey, Dawn Reiss, John Schwarb and Jamal Thalji.