Hurricane Irma wiped out the Week 4 high school football schedule on Friday, but two games are already rescheduled for next week.
The games, pitting Southeast at Bayshore and Bradenton Christian at Out-of-Door Academy, are two of the five needing rescheduling for district or league purposes. The Sunshine State Athletic Conference league game between BCS and ODA is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday. Saint Stephen’s travels to St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep at 11 a.m. Saturday, which was a rescheduled game announced Wednesday.
The Seminoles and Bruins both share bye weeks, so rescheduling for the two Class 5A-District 11 programs wasn’t as difficult as it will be for others.
Southeast is set to face Bayshore at 7 p.m. next Thursday.
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Rescheduling for the remaining four county public schools is a bit trickier.
The Week 4 slate featured district openers for all six public schools, and those games take precedent over non-district matchups to reschedule. Hurricane Irma caused a cleanup process to the county’s schools, forcing the school district to cancel school until Monday.
That also nixed this week’s athletic events and postponed football practices until Monday, when schools resume, as part of district policy.
Resuming school Monday also effectively dismissed any possibility of teams using Monday as a rescheduled game night. Instead, the proposition of playing the Week 4 game on a Monday later this season means two games in a four-day period, and depending on the bye weeks, that could become three games in an eight-day stretch.
The latter is unlikely as Manatee County supervisor of athletics Jason Montgomery told the Herald on Tuesday, following the Florida High School Athletic Association’s statement on leaving the schedule as it stood and the decision to play or practice up to individual schools and/or school districts, that the district won’t force schools to play on short notice as player safety is a top priority.
So what are the possibilities for Braden River at Palmetto, a key Class 7A-District 11 game?
They don’t share a bye week. So the only options to avoid three games in an eight-day stretch is to replace their Week 11 non-district games or play on Friday, Oct. 6.
The latter option would need Braden River to cancel its game at Sarasota Booker and see Palmetto give up its bye week to play in Week 7 on a Friday, which provides a better gate opportunity than a Monday night game.
“Your football revenue and gate helps fund the majority of your other sports,” Montgomery said. “To lose all these games, it’s brutal.”
In Week 11, Braden River is set to travel to St. Petersburg High, while Palmetto hosts Punta Gorda Charlotte. Those two non-district games could get canceled to make way for the district matchup between the Pirates and Tigers.
The other 7A-11 game that was postponed Friday, Venice at Lakewood Ranch, might need to happen next Friday. The Mustangs would need to cancel their home game against Spring Hill Springstead, while the Indians would give up their bye week.
In Class 8A-District 6, Manatee has even less flexibility.
The district features seven teams, and this week’s scheduled opponent, Lithia Newsome, doesn’t share the same bye week as the Hurricanes.
Manatee only has one non-district opponent – Venice – left on its slate. The long-standing rivalry is set for Friday, Nov. 3, in the regular-season finale for both teams. Manatee has an open date in Week 10, so to avoid the gate money lost from a big home game in the finale, the Canes could play Newsome on Monday, Oct. 23.
But that’s predicated on Newsome agreeing, which would put the Wolves in the three games-in-eight days dilemma.
The easiest solution, though, is to not make up the district games, assuming the FHSAA allows that, and giving teams one less district game. That could put teams in a half-game disadvantage or advantage by season’s end in the way Major League Baseball’s standings look for most of the year.