VALDOSTA -- For now, Valdosta High and Lincoln High will play as scheduled Friday night.
As of Wednesday evening, there has been no discussion of postponing or canceling Friday night's football game between Valdosta and Lincoln at Cleveland Field despite the approach of Hurricane Ivan.
Coaches will make a decision on today's junior varsity and freshman at 9 a.m., based on how much rain has fallen and the likelihood of the field being playable. Wednesday and Thursday's middle school games have already been postponed to a later date.
Around the state, schools are debating whether or not to postpone Friday's games. Wednesday, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) issued a statement on the impending weather conditions facing Georgia.
"We encourage schools to discuss options for postponements, but feel it is a little early to make final decisions now," the statement read. "There is a difference between uncomfortable and dangerous. It appears to be inevitable that some amount of rain will fall throughout the state, but wind and flooding issues cannot be determined at this time. Safety issues for travel and play merit postponements, but merely having a wet field does not.
"The GHSA recommends that postponements be made one day at a time. Friday games that cannot be played should be rescheduled for Saturday. In the event that the games cannot be played either Friday or Saturday, the possibility for Monday play will be considered on a case-by-case basis if reasonable steps are taken to play the games over the weekend."
The week of rain and the incoming hurricane have had minor effects on Valdosta High football this week, but nothing major. Football is generally a game that can be played in bad weather, up to a point.
On Monday, Valdosta practiced in a downpour on a soaked practice field at the school. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Wildcats practiced at Cleveland Field, and the rain stayed away. On Wednesday, school let out at 1 p.m., so practice began two hours earlier. The team bussed down to the stadium to practice on its Sprinturf field. Not a drop of rain fell on the Wildcats Tuesday or Wednesday.
"It poured on us Monday," head coach Rick Darlington said. "But (the last two days) have been nice."
Valdosta High is out of school today, due to concerns about the hurricane. The football team will practice at 10 a.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Thursday practices are usually the lightest of the week, as the team goes through its walk-through a day before the game.
Neither Valdosta nor Lincoln played last week. It was Valdosta's scheduled off week, but Lincoln was scheduled to play Orlando Edgewater, an old rival of Darlington's Apopka teams and the No. 18 team in the most recent USA Today national prep poll. But Hurricane Frances had canceled school in Orlando last week, so the game was canceled.
When Bazemore-Hyder Stadium was rebuilt, the architect made sure to have a field that drained well. In the event of rain, the water would run off the field towards the sidelines, and into one of several drains built on each sideline.
While the field is a plastic synthetic, Sprinturf, and no one has practiced on it while it's wet, playing on the turf while it's wet is not supposed to be much different than when it's dry.
While school will not be open tomorrow, the ticket office will be. Ticket manager Terry Daniel's window will be open from 8:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and 8:30 a.m. to Noon Friday.
Daniel had delayed ticket sales until Thursday so VHS would have a better idea of whether or not the hurricane would delay the game. For now, it does not look like it will.
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