The forecast for Hurricane Irma to hit South Florida has forced another local high school football cancellation as Bishop Moore Catholic, from Orlando, will not make the trip to play No. 2 Archbishop Spalding on Friday night.
Tuesday, No. 3 St. Frances called off its Friday night game at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, because of the forecast for the storm, that reached Category 5 status, to likely hit Florida.
Archbishop Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said the Cavaliers’ game will not be rescheduled. The St. Frances-IMG game may be played after the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference season ends in mid-November.
“Our kids completely understand,” Schmitt said of the cancellation. “Those kids are bracing for a Category 5 Hurricane. We’re disappointed. We want to play, but it makes a lot of sense. I would probably make the same decision if I was them.”
Schmitt said the concern was that while the team — and the families coming to see the game — would be able to get here ahead of the storm, they would likely have had difficulty getting home.
“We told our kids, look at the pictures from Houston last week. This could be coming to Florida this week. They understand there are things bigger than football,” Schmitt said.
With tropical force winds forecast to hit Florida as early as Friday night, St. Frances officials made the call Tuesday not to travel to IMG.
“We weren’t going to fly our kids into a state in a state of emergency,” coach Henry Russell said referring to the Florida governor’s declaration of a state of emergency for the entire state on Tuesday.
IMG is located in Bradenton on the west coast of Florida south of Tampa.
“Safety comes first and with a storm of this size, they’re probably going to be evacuating campus starting tomorrow or Friday,” Russell said. “Some of their kids have already left to go home. Hopefully, we’ll make it up, but at the end of the day, we just hope that their community stays safe from the storm.”
St. Frances, the defending MIAA A Conference champion, and IMG are both 2-0 with the Ascenders ranked No. 2 in USA Today’s Super 25 national poll and the Panthers ranked No. 24. St. Frances is eager for the rematch after falling to IMG, 38-0, in the season finale last November.
Spalding and Bishop Moore, who have never met, are also undefeated. Spalding (1-0) finished second in the A Conference last season while Bishop Moore (2-0), a Florida state quarterfinalist last season, won the Class 5A state title two years ago.
Both teams return to action next Friday. St. Frances heads to Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey while Spalding hosts Good Counsel.