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FHSAA board member John Gerdes explains his voting decisions

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Florida High School Athletic Association board member John Gerdes wrote a letter explaining his voting decisions from last week’s two emergency meetings that he shared with Prime Time Preps.

Gerdes, who also serves as Clearwater Central Catholic’s athletic director, voted against maintaining the July 27 start date for fall practices during the first meeting on July 20.

In the second meeting three days later, Gerdes said he would not have supported the initial recommendations from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee before fall practices could begin. He voted for delaying the start of fall practices until Aug. 24.

As an FHSAA Board member, the past week was a rollercoaster ride regarding two meetings that led to opposing decisions. In the rear view mirror for now, I realize people will judge what the “right” or “wrong” vote was, although I suggest that task is difficult at best. With that said, I would like to address my two votes and that of every Board member.

I did a great deal of reading and communicated with a wide variety of athletics directors from Naples through Tampa Bay ahead of each meeting. I trust and believe each Board member did the same with their respective constituencies. In my case – and I assume with each Board member – there were opposing opinions, all from administrators and coaches I respect and proudly consider friends. Without question, I could find opinions – even from doctors – that would support each side of the play/delay debate.

To be clear, like anyone, I have personal opinions. Mine was that full-go football on July 27 was still risky in our specific case at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. But I recognized that was not the case for many schools in various places in the state. Generally speaking, I am all in on subsidiarity or local decision-making.

So, why did I vote against the July 27 start in the first meeting, and for a state-wide delay in the second meeting?

Having sat on the task force heading into the Board meetings, and in my discussions with administrators and coaches between those meetings, there were strong but respectful arguments presented on both sides. But there was also a clear consensus in my view that July 27 was too soon, and a delay until August 10 would at least allow more schools to be better prepared to start. In my mind, two weeks was not a huge deal and August 10 would have generated broad-based acceptance that we could set as a firm date. Based on my conversations with the people I represent in my region, that is why I voted against July 27.

In the second meeting, I would not have supported the initial motion to utilize the recommendations on data points to be met before football and volleyball could start. I felt it was essentially the end of fall football and volleyball. That was too extreme for me. While I would have preferred August 10, I felt August 24 was an acceptable compromise.

I realize August 24 is not set in stone as a start date, but my position is we (and I) should do everything we can to make that the case. That is my goal.

Whether I am judged as “right” or “wrong” in either vote is up to whomever wishes to weigh in. I made my decisions based on an effort to gather and consider as much information as possible. It was by no means easy.

Further, I have zero doubt that each Board member tried their best to do the same. While I have not yet met the three new Board members, I have come to know each remaining member to be thorough and deliberate in every single matter that has come before us. We are each blessed with different personalities and skill sets, and we cannot be expected to completely divorce ourselves from that. The result ranges from fiery passion to meticulous dissection to legal considerations to all points beyond. In the end, our personality and skills lead us to present our opinions accordingly. We should and do respect them all – even in opposition.

I extend these same thoughts to each and every member of the FHSAA staff, who regardless of what any critics maintain, work extremely hard and always with the goal of giving students an outstanding athletic experience. Agree with them or not, they deserve our respect and admiration.

I spoke of my belief in subsidiarity above, and I offer that it should be balanced with solidarity. It is my commitment to stand in solidarity with every FHSAA member school to do our absolute best to defeat the virus and get as many kids as possible back to full-go practice on August 24.

John Gerdes

FHSAA Board of Directors

Athletics Director – Clearwater Central Catholic High School

(By way of disclosure, should comments be posted I will not respond due to the possibility that other Board members may read and/or react, posing potential Sunshine Law conflicts. Feel free to e-mail me at jgerdes@ccchs.org. I will do my best to respond in timely fashion)

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Football: Friday night scoreboard

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Final Tampa Bay Tech 21, Wharton 12

Final St. Petersburg Catholic 47, Bishop McLaughlin 15

Final Gibbs 50, Gulf 21

Final Countryside 28, Sunlake 7\

Final Berkeley Prep 49, New Orleans Newman 24

Final Zephyrhills Christian 30, Bradenton Christian 7

Final Boca Ciega 28, Seminole 21

Final Lakeland Christian 38, Calvary Christian 13

Final Clearwater 48, Tarpon Springs 7

Final Clearwater Central Catholic 56, Kissimmee Gateway 0

Final Northeast 21, Hollins 20

Final Sumner 14, Braden River 10

Final Legacy Charter 21, Indian Rocks Christian 14

Final Mount Dora Christian 48, Keswick Christian 0

Final Seffner Christian 62, St. Joseph Academy 16

Final Zephyrhills 35, Nature Coast 0

Final Largo 25, Sickles 7

Final Osceola 48, St. Petersburg 9

Final Steinbrenner 35, Chamberlain 21

Final Carrollwood Day 42, Cambridge Christian 7

Final Tampa Catholic 38, Winter Haven 0

Final Land O’ Lakes 36, Pasco 0

Final Jesuit 44, Blake 0

Final Armwood 41, Wiregrass Ranch 11

Final Palmetto 23, Bloomingdale 3

4th Q Alonso 52, Robinson 17

Final Plant City 31, Plant 24

Final Wesley Chapel 44, Hudson 6

Final Newsome 55, Riverview 7

Final Pinellas Park 46, Palm Harbor University 0

Final Fivay 27, Freedom 25

Final Bradenton Manatee 29, East Bay 13

Final Dunedin 48, Anclote 22

Final Spoto 46, Brandon 0

Final Durant 49, Middleton 6

Final Cypress Creek 43, Weeki Wachee 0

Final Lennard 33, Jefferson 31

Final Gaither 48, Leto 7

Final McCallie (Tenn.) 47, Clearwater Academy 14

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Football: FACA District 14 team announced

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Here are the selections for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 14 team, which includes all Pinellas County schools. The picks were made by coaches who belong to the FACA.

Overall Coach of the year: Shawn Davis, Northeast

Overall Player of the year: D’Angelo Hutchinson, Northeast

Players of the year (by classification)

Class 8A: Luke Yoder, Palm Harbor University

Class 7A: Tre’son Everett, Largo

Class 6A: D’Angelo Hutchinson, Northeast

Class 5A: CJ Lee, Clearwater

Class 4A: Terrell Crosby, Lakewood

Class 3A: Preston Cushman, Calvary Christian

Class 2A: Anthony Weaver, Keswick Christian

IND: Cortland Mitchell, Osceola

Coaches of the year (by classification)

Class 7A: Marcus Paschal, Largo

Class 6A: Shawn Davis, Northeast

Class 5A: Thor Jozwiak, Clearwater

Class 4A: Cory Moore, Lakewood

Class 3A: Chris Harvey, Clearwater Central Catholic

Class 2A: Phil Hayford, Keswick Christian

IND: Cody Montgomery, Osceola

Teams

Offense

QB Anthony Colandrea, Jr., Lakewood

QB Aidan MacLean, Sr., Clearwater

RB Lenwood Sapp Jr., Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic

RB Luke Yoder, Jr., Palm Harbor University

RB Terrion Williams, Sr., Pinellas Park

RB Jaden Griffin, Sr., Countryside

WR Amari Niblack, Sr., Lakewood

WR Nate Johnson, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic

WR Eric Jackson, Sr., Pinellas Park

TE Wyatt Stiehl, Sr., East Lake

C Tyrek Tripp, Jr., Clearwater

C Jacob Johanning, Sr., Pinellas Park

OL Preston Cushman, Sr., Calvary Christian

OL Connor Homa, Sr., Palm Harbor University

OL Aaron Sanez, Sr., Clearwater

OL Franklin Miller, Sr., Northeast

K Robert Gunn III, Sr., Pinellas Park

UTIL CJ Lee, Sr., Clearwater

Defense

DL Jack Hostetler, Sr., East Lake

DL Maikeli Tuinakauvadra, Sr., Osceola

DL Jaylan Anderson, Sr., Northeast

DL Deondre Randall, Sr., Largo

LB Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

LB Melvin Jordan, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic

LB Adarius Hayes, So., Largo

LB Anthony Weaver, Sr., Keswick Christian

CB Terrell Crosby, Sr., Lakewood

CB London Hall, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic

SS Jaeden Atkins, Sr., Calvary Christian

FS D’Angelo Hutchinson, Sr., Northeast

P Logan Gregory, Sr., Countryside

UTIL Jordan Jiminez, Sr., Pinellas Park

UTIL Sammy Miller Jr., Jr., Gibbs

LS Mac Wiand, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic

LS Liam Holden, Jr., St. Petersburg

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FNF Campus Tour Preview: Pinellas Park at PHU

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Pinellas Park (6-1) at Palm Harbor University (3-4), 7

Three things to know

Pound the rock

Both teams have strong rushing attacks. Palm Harbor University’s ground game is led by Luke Yoder, whose father is former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Todd Yoder. The younger Yoder currently leads the Tampa Bay area and ranks fourth overall in the state with 1,271 yards so far this season. Pinellas Park is more diversified in its approach. Isaiah Hampton (780 yards) and Terrion Williams (652 yards) are the Patriots’ top two leading rushers. 

Trap game

Pinellas Park is tied with Northeast for second place in Class 6A, District 11 and needs a win against Boca Ciega on Oct. 29 to force a three-way tie at the top of the standings. Before the Patriots can worry about playoff implications, they have to focus on Palm Harbor University. After starting 1-3, the Hurricanes have lost three straight and dropped out of contention for the 8A, District 11 title. That relegated Palm Harbor University to playing the role of spoiler the remainder of the season. 

Check out the FNF Campus Tour

The Friday Night Football Campus Tour, presented by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a free, interactive event that includes games and prizes for all fans, including the opportunity to get Tampa Bay Buccaneers swag. A 15-foot-tall replica of the NFL’s Super Bowl trophy is on display at each stop.. Buccaneers cheerleaders and Captain Fear, the Bucs’ mascot, also will be in attendance.   

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