Persistent lightning affected the entire Southwest Florida high school football landscape Friday, at one point delaying the start of all 13 games in The News-Press coverage area.
All but two eventually started and concluded. A key District 5A-11 matchup between visiting Mariner and East Lee County will start at 3 p.m. today while a non-district meeting between Gateway Charter and host LaBelle was moved to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, a date both teams had open.
“You can’t control the weather, that’s for sure,” East Lee coach Scott Jones said. “And you definitely can’t go out in it though, so they definitely made the right decision.
“I was at Mariner when Tony McKenna was struck by lightning. I think everyone in this area is aware of lightning and the effect it can have.”
McKenna died after being struck by lightning after football practice on Sept. 5, 1989. Jones was an assistant coach with the Tritons at the time.
On Wednesday, Southwest Florida Christian middle-schooler Jesse Watlington was struck by lightning prior to the start of football practice and remains in critical condition in a Tampa hospital.
Both Jones and Mariner coach Chris Siner said Friday’s decision wasn’t affected by what happened at Southwest Florida Christian.
“This is the same protocol we always take,” Siner said.