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.”