Dennis Marroquin sat through Hurricane Irma with his wife and two infants, and while the storm provided plenty of punch, it was the days after that tested this second year head coach.
“The heat, no ice, water or anything you need to exist,” Marroquin explained. “It was like the worst situation to be in.”
As Marroquin and his family lived with what so many had suffered through – with no power and a heat index that passed 100 – there was a Thursday trip that he used as a motivator to get through a tough situation.
Thursday morning, a group of players, coaches and administrators left this struggling region for Kentucky and a date with national powerhouse Trinity tonight (7:30) in Louisville.
The Lions, who are 2-0 on this young season, flew up to a much different environment, leaving South Florida behind to get things back moving.
“It is a game that we needed,” Marroquin said. “Our kids and coaches went through a pretty strong storm down here and many had to live without for the first time.”
Trinity is off to a 4-0 start and is ranked No. 1 in the state in the Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings and No. 19 in the nation by USA TODAY.
The Lions are ranked No. 2 in the state in Florida’s Class 2-A.
Having teams in South Florida not playing for two weeks is indeed rare. Even in the aftermath of Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, many teams played within a week, but with structural damage and students not returning to school, decisions will be made in the coming days.
“We had to assess every facility and take into account that many of the students within the county still do not have power,” said Shawn Cerra, Broward County Athletic Association (BCAA) administrator. “Decisions will be made, but they will made with everyone in mind.”
“CABIN FEVER” SETTING IN FOR PLAYERS AND COACHES
It is never easy for football players and coaches to take any time away from the sport – let alone right during a season that many had worked so hard to prepare for.
Around Miami-Dade and Broward, many are doing what they can to prepare and await a decision. While the decision will most likely see many of the programs play more than they are used to, making up the last two weeks – for some – could make or break the season.
Take Christopher Columbus and head coach Chris Merritt. The Explorers could very well play 4 games in 14 days! All against top-flight programs.
“When football returns, we have Belen, Miami High, Booker T. Washington and defending 6A state runner up Lake Gibson (Lakeland) in the space of 14 days,” Merritt pointed out. “We will need a vacation after that stretch.”
As the FHSAA is giving the okay for teams to practice, the wait goes on for programs like Richard Dunbar’s and his Fort Lauderdale Flying Ls who are waiting to see the schedule and determine if any games would be lost.
“The kids have worked so hard to get ready for this season – like everyone else – and they need those games to get scholarship attention,” said Dunbar. “We should know something this weekend. The wait has been tough, but everyone’s safety is paramount.”
Miami Coral Reef head coach Joe Petisco has been going over options with his athletic director. The Barracudas had a scheduled game with Miami Beach postponed. This week’s game with Varela is not going to be played, either.
“We would really like to get both games in, but Miami Beach would be a good contest to have,” he explained.
No matter what coach you speak with, the same things resonates as many are hoping to get things back to where football and school can take the place of stressing about every little thing.
Veteran head coach Mark Guandolo of Cypress Bay has been through the drill, coaching and living in South Florida since the early 1980’s. His team has started 2-0 and building momentum as they will be headed toward district play.
“They had hinted that were start school on Monday and then getting to the games,” Guandolo explained. “With the new point system in play for the first time, I am not sure if they accounted for an eighth game season.”
Southwest Miami head coach Don March, American Heritage’s Patrick Surtain, Coral Gables’ first year head coach Tim Neal, Coral Glades second year coach Christian Baldwin and veteran Archbishop McCarthy coach Byron Walker are just waiting to see how things unfold – which could determine plenty.
“The things that we are pretty sure of right now, is our game with Boynton Beach this week will not be played – and should be made up on Nov. 3,” Walker pointed out. “Our game next Friday against Delray American Heritage should be our first game after starting school next Tuesday.”
Killian’s Steve Smith, veteran coach Tim “Ice” Harris (Booker T. Washington), Norland’s Darryle Heidelburg and Kirk Hoza from Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian are also playing the waiting game with a plan.
“We just found out we play Ferguson and Homestead as schedule,” Smith said. “We are tentatively scheduled to play Miami Southridge on Monday, Oct. 2 and Miami High on Friday, Oct. 6. Both will be afternoon games.”
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