Update: Stephenson game likely canceled; Florida opponent pulls out because of tropical storm

Stephenson’s opening football game on Saturday appears all but canceled.

Stephenson was scheduled to play Pine Forest of Pensacola, Fla., at 3 p.m. in the middle game of the National High School Gridiron Challenge at North Gwinnett. The Florida school pulled out Monday because of Tropical Strorm Isaac.

Event organizers have tried in vain to find another opponent, including Lincoln High of Tallahassee, but their efforts have not paid off.

”It’s looking more and more like we’re not going to have that game,” said Ken Manning, chair of the Gridiron Challenge. “I did speak to the Pine Forest coach this morning, and the schools remain closed, and many of his players have evacuated, so it might be next-to-impossible to get everybody together and up here. The only options remain would be very last-second additional team. It’s unlikely. I feel awful for Stephenson.”

The other two games will be played at their original times.

The Stephenson-Pine Forest game would’ve started at 3 p.m. Valdosta plays North Augusta (S.C.) at noon, and North Gwinnett plays A.C. Flora (S.C.) at 6 p.m.

‘’It’s very important to play if we can,’’ Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. “We played our scrimmage early, so it would be three weeks if had to wait until next week. We’re tired of beating up on ourselves. At this point, we’d line up against the Falcons if we had to.’’

Pine Forest was one of a few Pensacola schools to cancel games.

“The school district is worried about the safety of our kids, as am I,” Pine Forest coach Jerry Pollard told the Pensacola News Journal. “Putting them on a bus and heading off to Atlanta is not the best thing to do right now.”

44 comments Add your comment


August 28th, 2012
10:01 am

It would seem loading them on the bus and coming to Atlanta would be the safest thing right now. Being here is safer than being there waiting on a hurricane


August 28th, 2012
10:10 am

I agree with Chris. Plus, the storm will be long gone by Thursday and Friday. Sounds like they just don’t want to play Stephenson.

That Guy

August 28th, 2012
10:18 am

Easy to say looking at it from a football perspective. However, if Pensacola is affected then what? The big picture logistics…especially after the fact is not worth the trip. If they didn’t want to play the game in the first place, I don’t think they’d have wasted their time scheduling it.


August 28th, 2012
10:35 am

Chris & John you guys are being ignorant. There are things bigger than playing high school football.@ @ John, since you know everything, could you give me tonight’s Megamillion numbers?lol

Big Al

August 28th, 2012
11:04 am

I agree with Robert. Yes, they would be safe in Atlanta. But what about their families, homes, etc. You really think they would be focused on football, knowing that their houses and families are getting pounded with wind and rain? Even if the storm passes by then, what about the damage left behind? Plus, traveling would be yet another added stress to the families. Smart move by the district. Some things are more important than football


August 28th, 2012
11:08 am

It would be safer staying in Pensacola than riding in a bus in the rain for 6 hours.


August 28th, 2012
11:11 am

Let me think – hurricane is coming my way. Do I focus my time/energy on being as prepared as possible for the possible devastation, or practice for this weekend’s football game like usual?

Bright Idea

August 28th, 2012
11:25 am

Only an idiot school administrator would allow that team to travel under these circumstances. Too many liability issues that would never hold up in a lawsuit. That’s what they are thinking.


August 28th, 2012
11:44 am

Stephenson got lucky!


August 28th, 2012
12:17 pm

Stephenson got LUCKY!? I don’t think so! This team barely beat a local Atlanta team last year. We will beat that 100 out 100 times with our JV team. Any suppporters of Pine Forest should think Isacc! Lol. Back on to the serious issue, I do agree with the decision. Let’s be smart about this, there is a game much bigger than football, it’s called LIFE! As bad as we would like to hit some else other than ourselves, we understand them staying home with their families. Good luck Pine Forest, hope everyone comes out of Isaac safely!


August 28th, 2012
12:19 pm

I lived in Pensacola for fifteen years and four hurricanes.

The up-side…I watched Emitt Smith on Friday nights when he played at Escambia High. I watched Pine Forest during the 1988 National Championship year. The Racing at Five Flags Speedway was great. I have never lived anywhere with better fishing and hunting.

The down side…I lost two houses to hurricanes. The second one took an entire life worth of memories and all “The Things” you don’t think are important until you don’t have them.

We did keep the most important things by respecting the hurricanes… Our lives.

We moved after that.

If you haven’t experienced a hurricane you just don’t understand.


August 28th, 2012
12:21 pm

If they are well coached they will beat Stephenson just like everyone in the playoffs does every year. I don’t think they fear them. I’m just saying is it safer to be 800 miles away from the coast during a hurricane or to be sitting waiting on it. How well did waiting on the storm work out for the citizens of New Orleans last time?

Vampire Bill

August 28th, 2012
12:48 pm

LOL with Robert…


August 28th, 2012
1:19 pm

The Braves should really trade for some power hitters like Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth (if he is still available) Also Whitey Ford and/or Bob Feller would make an excellent addition. What do ya’ll think ?


August 28th, 2012
1:37 pm

I’m confused, the storm is suppose to hit land west of NO and then head north. Maybe someone needs to watch the weather channel more and learn a little about US geography.


August 28th, 2012
1:54 pm

Good break for Stephenson…..BTW, What has Stephenson ever won?


August 28th, 2012
1:58 pm

Can’t wait to watch Get Down and Boogie U vs Say What State College!


August 28th, 2012
2:20 pm

Either way, whomever Stephenson plays will see a new world, there is a new coach staff in the mix, anticipate a new day in the Mountain. Florida teams stay safe where ever you end up playing. Best of Luck to all Teams in GA and FLA

[...] Read the original post [...]

Stephenson's Finest

August 28th, 2012
2:54 pm

GFI the answer to your question is your wife and we won her on a scratch off at Quiktrip


August 28th, 2012
3:05 pm

GFY what has Stephenson ever won? Only 7 Region championships since there 13 yrs. existence, has led the state of Georgia in Division 1 college signees and has several alumni’s playing in the NFL…:)


August 28th, 2012
3:21 pm

@ GFY what do you mean good break for Stephenson? Pine Forest just did beat Columbia High last year 20 to 14 a mediarocal team @ a team that Stephenson last played and distroyed, ..

Scott McPherson

August 28th, 2012
6:40 pm

Stephenson will play Lincoln High from Tallahassee. Lincoln is a three-time state champ in Florida, 1999 (beat Miami Southridge, 6A), 2001 (4A, beat St. Thomas Aquinas) and 2010 (4A, beat Seffner Armwood).

Scott McPherson

August 28th, 2012
6:41 pm

Lincoln’s opponent, Pensacola High, cancelled, also due to Isaac.

Decatur joe

August 28th, 2012
8:08 pm

Jab…. I could get the neighborhood together and win a region title. Win a state title then you can talk.

Scott McPherson

August 28th, 2012
8:27 pm

Sorry, everyone, I got some bad data. Apparently a repetition of this story caused a ripple effect here which suddenly caused it to become “gospel.” There is no current resolution to this issue. My apology.

Todd Holcomb

August 28th, 2012
9:24 pm

Updated story to note that an opponent still has not been found. Organizers are still talking w/ Pine Forest, hoping to salvage it. Lincoln remains a contender.


August 29th, 2012
1:00 am

didnt no there was another stephenson’s finest so will change my blog name…to Jag4Life…but yea i was really ready to watch this game…GYF stop being a hater its not good for you…HOW BOUT THEM JAGS


August 29th, 2012
7:27 am

Stephensonfinest you will have to get another blog name.(JAG4LIFE2) is my suggestion. I don’t mine sharing. LOL


August 29th, 2012
7:39 am

They need another bye week to prepare for the beat down that they shall receive from Arabia Mountain..!


August 29th, 2012
8:55 am

Ummmm, isn’t the Hurricane going over New Orleans? Pensacola would be way on the outskirts of this storm. But I can see their reasoning for canceling.


August 29th, 2012
11:09 am

Do your research on Pine Forest, they aren’t pushovers now buddy!! They were very young last year vs Columbia…


August 29th, 2012
11:22 am

They would’ve pummeled Stephenson on Saturday!


August 29th, 2012
6:07 pm

This will be Stephenson’s exscue for losing in the first round, I can hear it now…

We didn’t play our first game so we lost some valuable game experience and the other team had a full 10 games to prepare for the playoffs. We will back next year, and win state!

I’m taking all bets!!! LOL


August 30th, 2012
12:15 am

Tiger4Life get a life …you way to much time on your hands to think of something that stupid…Jake you can’t be serious stephenson would woopin they @** …they barely got past Columbia….Philip please man they need to go and start preparing for next weeks game…that game will be over by mid second qt believe my friend


August 30th, 2012
12:17 am

you have @ Tiger4Life


August 30th, 2012
12:43 am

Stephenson will play Lincoln (Tallahassee). Wow! That should be a GREAT game. I believe that Stephenson will represent. I hate to see that Stephenson gets such a bad rap. I am curious from some of the Stephenson folks. How do you guys explain the constant missteps in the state playoffs?


August 30th, 2012
8:50 am


Yeah, I have way it much time on my hand. I actually thought of my on screen name. But Stephenson has never been original so what could have I expected.


August 30th, 2012
3:32 pm

Tiger4Life o man great come back ..not…the thing is tucker could win 20 state titles and would still be the step child of dekalb…stephenson is the heart of dekalb that is the plain true…your day is coming


August 30th, 2012
3:44 pm


August 31st, 2012
1:04 am

Will someone please explain to me WHY Stephenson get’s bashed for losing in “the first round” of the play offs every year??? Please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the goal was to win the LAST game? And remind me again, HOW MANY TEAMS win the last game? Oh I remember now, ONLY the STATE CHAMPION. And how many extra credit points do you get for losing in the 2nd, 3rd rounds? Some of you seem to be REALLY PROUD of making a DEEP RUN into to playoffs. I hope you get a really big trophy for all those “deep run in the playoffs extra points” LOL LOL LOL!

Juss sayin

August 31st, 2012
8:16 am

Jagwired in my opinion you get bashed because you have so many College signees. More than most schools. So therefore one would think with all of those signees Stephenson should go deep in the playoffs every year.


August 31st, 2012
11:47 pm


King Of Diamonds

September 17th, 2012
8:00 pm

It always seem to amaze me that whenever Stephenson name is mentioned it always read the same ” what has stephenson won or they haven’t won any state titles”. Yes that is true, but you never seem to mention the acamedic atheletes’s who qualify for college or the great coaching staff who fully prepares their athelete’s for school. AT the end of the year when it’s all said and done evryone in the state ask one question ” How many D-1 players did they sign or how many college scholarship did Stephenson sign” Now go run and tell that!