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Hillsborough postpones football, other games

A decision about rescheduling tonight's football action will be made today.

By FRANK PASTOR

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001


TAMPA -- Football coach Darlee Nelson remembers first seeing the banner inside the Plant High cafeteria in 1974. It probably has been there longer, perhaps since the school opened 74 years ago.

Students pass it every time they enter the cafeteria. Nelson sometimes points it out to his players.

Because of renovations at the school, the banner has been moved to a hallway opposite the cafeteria.

But its message -- "Strength Through Unity" -- is no less pertinent.

"It has more meaning today than it ever has," Nelson said.

Thursday, Hillsborough County joined the NFL, Major League Baseball and colleges across the country by interrupting its schedule to honor the victims and families of terrorist attacks Tuesday in New York and Washington, D.C.

In accordance with President Bush declaring today a national day of prayer and remembrance, the county postponed all football games scheduled for tonight.

"I think that was the right call," said Nelson, whose team was scheduled to travel to Armwood.

"I think that with the vividness of the things that have happened, the tragedies and the lives that have been affected far and near, it touches us all. And if it touches us all, we need to recognize it and be remorseful."

A decision regarding when the games will be played will be made by noon today, county athletic director Vernon Korhn said.

The decision could be complicated by the approach of Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which approached Florida's west coast Thursday, and Rosh Hashana. The Jewish New Year begins at sundown Monday.

Like Nelson, King senior Chris Hutchins said he agreed with the decision to postpone the games.

"People are still depressed and worrying about what's going to happen in the world," he said. "I mean, who knows what's going to happen? What is America's reaction going to be to (the attacks)?"

Blake football coach Clarence Higdon, whose team was scheduled to travel to Robinson, understood the decision but would have preferred to play.

"My feeling is when (the students) are not playing, they're home. They're watching television, and things are getting worse and worse every day," Higdon said. "I just think the more you can occupy their mind with something else positive, then I just think that's good."

Football wasn't the only sport affected.

Today's Berkeley Prep at Tampa Prep volleyball match also has been postponed.

In addition, Jesuit athletic director Sonny Hester said he is considering postponing Saturday's USF/Jesuit Cross Country Invitational because of the national tragedy and hurricane watch. He expects a final decision to be made today.

"We're going to follow the course of our nation, and I think that's the most important thing at this time," Nelson said.

"All those other things will fall in line after (today). I think that's the most important thing. We need to honor America and honor what has happened to America. And that's what (today) is all about."

- Times staff writer Scott Purks contributed to this report.

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