St. Augustine moved home opener against Flagler Palm Coast to Oct. 4 due to Hurricane Dorian. The storm has led to two cancellations, while three other Week 3 games are in wait-and-see mode.
For the third time in the last four years, tropical disturbances have interrupted the relatively trivial pursuit of teenagers throwing a football under the lights on a Friday night.
The western edge of Hurricane Dorian is expected to brush St. Johns County on Wednesday, leading to flooding in some places and severe rains in others.
On Monday afternoon, with the uncertainty surrounding the storm, the St. Johns County School District announced that all athletic contests and practices for varsity sports were suspended until further notice.
While no official announcement has been made about three of the six varsity football games in St. Johns County. On Monday, St. Augustine announced its home contest against Flagler Palm Coast will be moved to Oct. 4. Elsewhere, St. Joseph has canceled its game against Pierson Taylor, and Menendez will not play Merritt Island on Friday.
As for the remaining games — Creekside at Bartram Trail; Orange City University at Nease; and Gainesville Buchholz at Ponte Vedra — the best barometer of when local sporting events will resume will be the status of the gymnasiums at Menendez and Bartram Trail. Both schools serve as hurricane shelters, and when shelters are open, the St. Johns County School District is closed.
Tuesday morning, Menendez Athletic Director Patrick Turner said he and officials at Merritt Island have not discussed a make-up date for the non-district game.
Tuesday, Turner also announced the Falcons 5K cross country meet that the school was scheduled to host on Saturday morning has been moved to Oct. 5. Bartram Trail, Nease, Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine and St. Joseph were among the 21 programs entered in the event.
Before Menendez can host any athletic events, the school must no longer serve as a hurricane shelter. Turner said the school will serve as a shelter on Wednesday, but he had yet to be notified about Thursday.
This week is the third time in Turner’s six years on the faculty at Menendez that the school has served as a shelter. In his experience, it takes more than a dozen people an entire day to prepare the school to host sporting events after it has served as a shelter.
“For us, it’s bigger than a gym. It’s the courtyard, the cafeteria anything that’s been used during the shelter,” Turner said. “It’s a big job and it depends on how many people are chipping in, helping out and making themselves available.”
As Turner finished the sentence, employees from St. Augustine’s Chicken Salad Chick location presented Turner and others who were volunteering at the hurricane shelter at Menendez with lunch.
With Dorian’s drift through the Atlantic slow and steady, local officials were taking a wait-and-see approach to Week 3 contests. Compounding the issue is the fact most of the schools do not have a common bye week, as St. Augustine and Flagler Palm Coast do.
None of the slated Week 3 contests had more sizzle surrounding them than Creekside’s jaunt down Longleaf Pine Parkway to face Bartram Trail. Both teams are undefeated, and the Knights had a chance to improve to 3-0 for the first time in school history.
“We have exhausted some other possibilities of playing outside of this week,” Creekside football coach Sean McIntyre said Tuesday morning. “We are trying to play this week, but we will not play without a practice under our belt. If we are able to go back to school on Thursday, we will play on Friday.”
Last week, St. Joseph Academy football coach Brannon Tidwell desperately wanted to play Cocoa Beach because there was a likelihood that a Week 3 contest against Pierson Taylor would not be played.
Tuesday, Tidwell confirmed the undefeated Flashes will not travel to Volusia County to play the 2-0 Wildcats. The decision was made because neither team has practiced since winning on Aug. 30. The Flashes canceled Monday’s practice, and the Wildcats are forbidden from practicing until at least Friday.
“We can’t put ourselves in the mind of a family who has been through one of these and had something ruined or destroyed,” Tidwell said. “I love football. But what some of these families have been through, it’s not fair for me to ask a family to have someone here on a Monday. These families have been through so much in the last few years.”