While the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence, area school officials are keeping a wary eye on a weather system that could trigger a wave of thunderstorms in Central Texas and wash out this weekend’s football games.
Several high schools have already rescheduled or cancelled non-district games, but almost all of the area’s Class 6A programs begin district play this week. Cancelling such contests is not an option, and athletic directors are making alternative plans for while hoping for the best.
“Starting (Thursday), we’re going to start watching the weather a little bit closer,” Round Rock school district athletic director Dwayne Weirich said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re aware of the forecast, but we’re hoping we can get the games in on Friday.”
Four out of the five Round Rock schools open District 13-6A play Friday, with the district hosting two of those games at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex and Dragon Stadium. Rain showers alone won’t disrupt a football game. However, if nearby lightning strikes either prevent or delay a game, Weirich said the district would reschedule the game for Saturday and “we’d start as early as both teams can agree to.”
Other area officials will follow similar protocol. The Austin school district hosts a pair of District 25-6A openers Thursday and two more Friday, including a much-anticipated contest between undefeated Bowie and No. 2 Lake Travis at Burger Stadium. Four other Austin programs are scheduled to play non-district contests this week, but athletic director Leal Anderson said the district games top his list of concerns.
“If we have some facilities available, we’d try to get those (non-district) games in, but they’re not as high as priority,” he said. “But we have to get the district games in. If they’re delayed (until Saturday), then we’d get the coaches and the school principals involved and figure out what’s best for everyone. We could go as early as 11 a.m., but I think you’d see a lot of noon or 1 p.m. starts.”
Pflugerville school district athletic director Todd Raymond expressed similar concerns. Hendrickson, Pflugerville’s lone Class 6A school, is scheduled to open District 13-6A play against Westwood Friday. The other three Pflugerville schools are scheduled for non-district games.
“Our first priority at this point is Hendrickson,” Raymond said. “According to the UIL, if we can’t get that game in (Friday), then we have to play the next available day.”
And if storms persist throughout the weekend, preventing games on either Friday or Saturday?
“We’d make a call to the UIL for some guidance,” Weirich said.
UIL rules allow for district games to take place on Monday, if necessary.
Schools competing in non-district games have already tweaked their schedule in anticipation of the forecasted storms. Thrall’s game at Flatonia as well as Schulenberg’s game at Luling have been moved from Friday to Thursday. Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kick.
Hutto’s scheduled home game Friday against El Paso Del Valle has been cancelled because of the uncertain forecast and lengthy travel for the El Paso school.
At press time, the storms brewing in the Gulf of Mexico had a 70 percent chance of forming into a cyclone over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
National Weather Service meteorologist Cory Van Pelt said the system, organized or not, could arrive in Texas by this weekend with Austin seeing significant rainfall Friday and Saturday.
The system could pose a threat to Texas even if it stays disorganized, University of Texas meteorology lecturer Troy Kimmel told the American-Statesman Wednesday.
“It’s in my thought that our area of Texas could receive 1 to 3 inches of rain between now and the end of the weekend with isolated heavier totals especially in areas south and southwest of Austin,” Kimmel said.