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Pinellas moves some football games to Thursday due to lack of officials

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A shortage of football officials has forced Pinellas County to schedule games on Thursday and Friday during the regular season. 

Of the 120 members in the Sunshine Football Officials Association, about 50 opted out this fall, said John Taylor, president of the association. 

Most who declined were older or had health issues and worried about potentially being infected with any coronavirus outbreaks. Others declined because they would not be able to officiate Saturday afternoons in youth leagues that have already suspended play because of health concerns.

Taylor informed Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett about a potential shortage earlier this summer. Bennett made accommodations by splitting the schedule between Thursday and Friday nights to make sure each public school game had enough officials. 

Bennett said he tried to keep games that involved out-of-county opponents on Friday nights to avoid any interruptions with travel arrangements. 

Here is the revamped schedule for Pinellas County public school programs.  All varsity games start at 7 p.m.

Sept. 10 (Thursday)

Boca Ciega at Tarpon Springs

Hollins at Countryside

Northeast at Seminole

Sept. 11 (Friday)

Clearwater at Jesuit

Cypress Creek at Osceola

Dunedin at St. Petersburg Catholic

Gibbs at Lakewood

Palm Harbor U at East Lake

Pinellas Park at Largo

Wiregrass Ranch at St. Petersburg

Sept. 17 (Thursday)

Boca Ciega at Lakewood

Palm Harbor U at Wharton

Seminole at Dunedin

Hollins at Sarasota

Sept. 18 (Friday)

East Lake at Sunlake

Largo at Clearwater

Osceola at Countryside

Pinellas Park at Mitchell

Robinson at Gibbs

Tarpon Springs at River Ridge

Sept. 24 (Thursday)

Palm Harbor U at Countryside

St. Petersburg at Gibbs

Sept. 25 (Friday)

Boca Ciega at Seminole

Dunedin at Gulf

East Lake at Tarpon Springs

Hollins at Pasco

Largo at Palmetto

Lakewood at Braden River

Northeast at Osceola

Oct. 1 (Thursday)

Countryside at Largo

Hollins at Northeast

Seminole at Osceola

St. Petersburg at Boca Ciega

Oct. 2 (Friday)

Alonso at Palm Harbor U

Clearwater at CCC

Dunedin at Parrish Community

Gibbs at Bayshore

Leto at Pinellas Park

Mitchell at East Lake

Zephyrhills at Tarpon Springs

Oct. 8 (Thursday)

Countryside at Boca Ciega

Osceola at Palm Harbor U

Seminole at Hollins

Oct. 9 (Friday)

Northeast at Dunedin

Pinellas Park at Clearwater

St. Petersburg at Tarpon Springs

Riverview at East Lake

Oct. 15 (Thursday)

Boca Ciega at Northeast

Largo at Seminole

Osceola at Lakewood

St. Petersburg at Hollins

Oct. 16 (Friday)

Countryside at Clearwater

Cypress Creek at Dunedin

Gibbs at Chamberlain

Gulf at Tarpon Springs

Palm Harbor U at Plant

Pinellas Park at Sunlake

Sickles at East Lake

Oct. 22 (Thursday)

Clearwater at Seminole

Northeast at Countryside

Osceola at Largo

Oct. 23 (Friday)

East Lake at Leto

Hudson at Dunedin

Jesuit at Gibbs

Lakewood Ranch at Hollins

Lakewood at St. Petersburg

Sickles at Pinellas Park

Steinbrenner at Palm Harbor U

Tarpon Springs at Anclote

Oct. 29 (Thursday)

Clearwater at Osceola

Seminole at Countryside

Oct. 30 (Friday)

Sarasota Booker at Gibbs

East Lake at Pinellas Park

Hollins at Boca Ciega

Keswick Chr. at Dunedin

Largo at Lakewood

Northeast at St. Petersburg

Tarpon Springs at Wesley Chapel

Nov. 5 (Thursday)

Boca Ciega at Clearwater

Pinellas Park at Gibbs

Tarpon Springs at Hollins

Nov. 6 (Friday)

Anclote at St. Petersburg

Countryside at East Lake

Dunedin at Palm Harbor U

Hudson at Osceola

Largo at Wiregrass Ranch

Seminole at Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood at Plant

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Baseball

No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

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Stock football stadium

Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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Coronavirus

COVID case ends Osceola’s volleyball season

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Osceola, which made the Class 5A region finals in volleyball last season, had to forfeit Monday’s district quarterfinal match because its entire junior varsity and varsity teams are quarantining after a player tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said.  

By forfeiting, the Warriors ended their season. They were ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A and were expected to go on another deep playoff run.

“We have to follow what the health officials tell us,” Bennett said. “It’s tough because Osceola is one of our best volleyball teams in the county. I talked to the Florida High School Athletic Association and they said there were plenty of other teams around the state in the same situation.”

Under CDC and Pinellas County health department guidelines, any student athlete who tests positive must be quarantined, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15-minute duration without any face covering. Osceola’s quarantine ends on Oct. 19, a week after the district tournament.. 

All the players have currently tested negative, including the one who was originally positive. But the quarantine did not end. The Warriors also had to postpone their appearance in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. That title game against St. Petersburg will be made up once the Green Devils’ season ends. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the seniors to have their season end this way, but we’re really excited for the chance to play the PCAC Final at home for senior night as our last match of the season, against our toughest competition, St Petersburg,” Osceola coach Ashley Martin said.”It will feel like a state championship since a trophy is involved.”    

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Coronavirus

PHU cancels season opener after a football player tests positive for coronavirus

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Palm Harbor University’s season opener against rival East Lake this Friday has been cancelled after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett confirmed in a text message.

It was unclear how many PHU players are currently under quarantine. According to CDC and county health department guidelines, a player who tests positive must quarantine, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15 minute duration with a face covering.

The Hurricanes next game is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Wharton. Bennett said the school is looking into moving that game to Saturday or Monday to avoid another cancellation.

The Eagles will now host Sarasota Riverview in Friday’s opener.

This is the fourth area football program that had to cancel its season opener after having a player test positive for the virus.

Hillsborough and Jefferson, which were supposed to play on Friday, both have players under quarantine. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Zephyrhills is in a similar situation and had to cancel its first two games.

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