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Football schedules in turmoil in aftermath of Irma

Posted on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Liberty and Poinciana met Sept. 7. The Chargers are one of the few teams in the county to play a complete schedule so far this season. Photo/Martin Maddock

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
The shakeout from Hurricane Irma continues as school districts around the state try to piece together the remainder of the fall sports season.
The Florida High School Athletic Association mandates that all football games that count in the district standings must be made up.
That means that three of the Osceola County football games postponed on Friday must be rescheduled.
Gateway was to play Haines City in District 8A-7. St. Cloud had a game at Lake Nona in 7A-5 and Poinciana was to travel to Bishop Moore in 5A-13.
Because of rescheduling by Orange County Schools on Wednesday, when it decided that all games lost on Friday will be played on Monday, Oct. 9, St. Cloud High Coach Bryan Smart received the stunning news that his team must play three district games over a seven-day period beginning Oct. 6 when the Bulldogs host Liberty.
On Oct. 9, St. Cloud will travel to Lake Nona to make up Friday’s district game, and then the Bulldogs go to Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 12.
“Let the fun begin,” he said.
There is little wiggle room for the Bulldogs, who have an open date during the last playing date of the season, Nov. 3. But, district games must be completed by Oct. 27.
St. Cloud players faced a similar test last year when they played East River on a Friday late in the season, then went to Lake Nona for a district tiebreaker on Monday before playing the season finale at Gateway on the following Friday.
The Bulldogs host Windermere Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Harmony Sept. 29, both in the district.
Poinciana Coach Ken Knapczyk said that the game against Bishop Moore might be rescheduled for Oct. 2, when PHS has an open date.
Gateway Coach Marlin Roberts put his team through practice for the first time in a week on Thursday.
He isn’t sure when the Panthers will make up their game with Haines City, which is the district opener for both schools.
“I think this is worse than in 2004 (when three hurricanes struck Osceola County in August and September),” Roberts said. “Then, that happened mostly before we played the district games. This is right in the middle of it.”
Gateway has an open date Oct. 6. Haines City is open Sept. 29.
Osceola’s game at Winter Haven, non-district, may not be made up. Coach Doug Nichols is trying to reschedule that game, or find one for Sept. 22 when the Kowboys are open. Osceola hasn’t played since Sept. 1.
Celebration had an open date Friday.
No games were held in any fall sport this week since schools were closed. Golf, swimming, cross country and volleyball all lost playing dates.
The schedules for all fall sports are expected to resume next week.
Irma damaged the baseball and softball fields at St. Cloud High, but other than that the damage to the county’s athletic facilities seemed minor, according to School District Athletics Coordinator Ryan Adams.
In 2004, Hurricane Charley destroyed the roof at the Poinciana High gym and damaged the Osceola High gym, forcing those schools to play their basketball and volleyball games at other sites.