JOHN SCHWARB and JAMAL THALJI
North Suncoast teams will wait out tropical storm and play makeup games tonight and Monday.
North Suncoast football teams hungry to begin their seasons Friday instead got at least one more night of waiting.
Tropical Storm Henri forced changes in schedules throughout the North Suncoast, canceling practices and the long-awaited first Friday night of high school football.
Cancellations trickled in throughout the day, starting in Pasco County. The marquee game on the schedule, Land O'Lakes at Zephyrhills, was moved to Monday night and other games followed suit, with Monday being the more popular choice.
A handful of games will be played tonight, including big intra-county matchups such as Springstead at Hernando and Ridgewood at Pasco.
Pasco coach Dale Caparaso said by risking playing tonight his team will be in better position for its Sept.13 game.
"I'm concerned in terms of proper preparation," Caparaso said. "You play Monday, you have to give the kids Tuesday off or at least go light. You get a little banging in on Wednesday, but Thursday you lighten up because you're playing Friday. I'm more concerned about that."
By midday Friday, Hernando County canceled its activities, which had a trickle-down effect in Citrus County with Central scheduled to play at Citrus. That game was rescheduled for Monday, and by the end of school Friday the rest of the Citrus County teams were off for the night.
Lecanto began looking ahead Thursday to inclement weather possibilities and was prepared to move its home game against Lake Weir to tonight, even though it will go up against a college football game of some interest: Florida at Miami.
"We're the only show in town for high school football, maybe that will help," Lecanto coach Dick Slack said.
Of course, rescheduling for Monday means going up against another phenomenon: the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and their Monday Night Football season opener in Philadelphia.
"If it was my gate, I would not want to go head to head with the Bucs on Monday Night Football," said River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro, who plays at Hudson.
Henri also forced the postponement of this morning's seventh annual Gator Invitational cross-country meet.
Land O'Lakes coach Kris Keppel said he rescheduled the meet for Tuesday evening to avoid having to clear the 5-kilometer course of debris hours before the race, to avoid the chaos of having 400 registered runners show up hours after the storm makes landfall and to avoid excluding any teams.
Hernando County teams, that is, who will not be able to travel today.
"We're trying to appease everybody," he said. "Our season was shrunk by two weeks, so every race is important and we want to try and accommodate everybody."
The race will still be at Crews Lake Park in Shady Hills but the times changed: the junior varsity will race at 5:30 p.m. The girls varsity will race at 6:10 and the boys at 6:45
- Staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.RESCHEDULED GAMES
St. Petersburg Catholic at Wesley Chapel, 5Ridgewood at Pasco, 7
Springstead at Hernando, 7
Lake Weir at Lecanto, 7:30MONDAY
Crystal River at Groveland South Lake, 6
Gulf at Mitchell, 6:30
Central at Citrus, 6:30
River Ridge at Hudson, 7
Land O'Lakes at Zephyrhills, 7