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Middleton set to play Wharton's JV squad

The Tigers lose their original opponent when Cyber High is shut down.

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 30, 2002

TAMPA -- Middleton officials found themselves scrambling Wednesday morning to find an opponent for tonight's preseason classic.

Cyber High, a charter school outside Orlando, was scheduled to play the Tigers. But the Seminole County School Board shut down Cyber High on Tuesday after the school filed for bankruptcy.

Wharton's junior varsity team will take Cyber's place across the field from Middleton at Hillsborough High, thanks to the Florida High School Activities Association's quick approval Wednesday afternoon.

Tickets, which normally cost $5, have been reduced to $3, Middleton athletic director Jake Russell said.

"The FHSAA was very helpful in getting us a game to play," Russell said. "They seemed very concerned about us not having an opponent."

Cyber's closing brings to an end a strange year and a half for the school, which offered high tech educational alternatives to students who struggled in conventional schools.

During the 2001-02 school year, there were two Cyber High campuses, one in Orange County and another in a renovated Sanford skating rink in Seminole County. The Orange County campus was closed in May due to financial and management problems.

Russell said he originally had a contract to play Friday against the Orange County campus, which was fined last year for using players from both campuses. It went 0-9 and scored 13 points.

Russell got concerned when he hadn't heard from anybody at the school for a while and called to check on things.

The school already was shut down, but Russell found a number for the Seminole campus.

When he was told by administrators there that he didn't have a contract with that school, they created one for tonight.

That went out the window Tuesday when the school was shut down.

Money was so tight at Cyber that Alan Friedland, the principal's husband, was serving as volunteer head coach because the Sharks did not have enough money to pay someone.

Cyber said it had four games on its schedule but was listed on only one opponent's schedule.

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