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Hurricane Joaquin makes life tough on York County athletic directors

STEVE HEISER
YorkDispatch

Hurricane Joaquin is making life miserable for sports officials throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

York County and the surrounding area will not escape unscathed.

The approaching storm is putting lots of stress on York-Adams League athletic directors as they attempt to make contingency plans for their weekend events — especially when it comes to Friday night's high school football games.

Three football contests have already had their start times moved up in an effort to beat the weather. The Central York-at-South Western, York Catholic-at-Hanover at Littlestown-at-Delone Catholic games will now start at 6 p.m. Friday. According to forecasts, the worst of the rain is slated to hold off in York County until the late afternoon or early evening on Friday.

Other local ADs will wait until Friday to make a final determination.

"We haven't made a decision yet," Susquehannock AD Chuck Abbott said about his school's football game in Glen Rock vs. Gettysburg. "We'll make it early (Friday) morning."

Abbott, who also serves as the York-Adams League executive director, said the decision to play or to postpone is up to each school. The league has no say.

Abbott said he would lean to playing on Friday if at all possible. He noted that having an artificial turf field, such as Susquehannock has, makes it easier to play in the rain, if needed.

"I don't like going on Monday," he said. "I just don't think that's good for kids to have to play two games within four days. At this level, I'm not a fan of it."

Normally, going Saturday would be a possibility, but Saturday's forecast looks just as bad, if not worse, than Friday's. Most teams also generally shy away from playing on Sundays, although the PIAA does allow Sunday games. In fact, in 2013, the PIAA held state championship football games on a Sunday because of snow.

The uncertainty of the weather forecasts adds to the difficulty of making the proper call.

"You hear all different kinds of things," Abbott said of the forecasts. "To try to make a reasonable decision is tough. It's very tough."

Add all of the above factors together and it can lead to some stressful days for local ADs.

"It definitely ramps you up," Abbott said. "You keep hoping to catch a break. The bottom line is, we want to make the best decision in the best interests of the kids."

High school events aren't the only ones impacted by the storm.

National Open: Officials at Williams Grove Speedway near Mechanicsburg decided to cancel the first night of the three-night Champion Oil National Open because of rain on Thursday.

Despite the dire forecast for the rest of the weekend, track officials said the Friday and Saturday programs are still on as scheduled. The Saturday feature, if it is held, will pay $50,000 to the winner.

Speedway and World of Outlaws officials, however, are "looking into contingency plans to allow us to race next week if we can not continue as planned," according to a Williams Grove Facebook post.

College football: In addition, the Big Ten Conference changed the time of Michigan's football game at Maryland to noon Saturday, moving up kickoff by eight hours.

Saturday's Army-Penn State game at Beaver Stadium was already scheduled for a noon kickoff, but rain this week and the additional expected rain on Friday and Saturday, have forced some parking changes at PSU. Approximately 2,900 vehicles will be re-directed to other parking lots near Beaver Stadium. PSU utilizes several intramural fields for football parking and the rain and vehicular traffic would have the potential to significantly damage the fields.

Pro sports: An NFL spokesman, meanwhile, said the league is "closely monitoring the forecast and speaking with both teams" about the need for possible changes to the Philadelphia Eagles' game vs. the Washington Redskins on Sunday in Landover, Maryland.

Other major pro events that could be impacted this weekend in the region are: the Philadelphia Phillies' three-game series vs. the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park; the Baltimore Orioles' three-game series vs. the New York Yankees at Camden Yards; and the NASCAR auto racing events at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Saturday and Sunday.

— Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.