First came the lightning, roughly three minutes before kickoff. Then the thunder, followed by rain, more lightning and more rumbles of thunder.
With no end in sight to that cycle, officials made the tough call of cancelling the St. Francis versus Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy nonleague game at Polian Family Field in Athol Springs. The marquee football game between teams expected to contend for state titles this season will not be made up since neither has an opening on its schedule.
The teams waited as long as they could before calling it off, with Red Raiders coach Jerry Smith announcing around 8:15 p.m. that if the contest couldn’t start by 9:30, it’d be cancelled.
The decision to scrap the game came 37 minutes sooner than that, since teams needed time to warm up after spending two hours in the locker room.
When a game is delayed by lightning, the area must be lightning-free for 30 minutes in order to resume play. If lightning has been spotted during the delay, the 30-minute clock restarts.
When the lightning and rain intensified as zero hour approached, it became apparent that starting the game wasn’t an option. Smith dismissed his team for the night just before 9, while CBA started carrying its stuff to the team bus.
Even though teams in New York are allowed to play games four days apart, logistically that just didn’t seem like a feasible option – especially for the Brothers. CBA is roughly three hours away.
Then both teams would have had to deal with the not-so-ideal short preparation week as St, Francis and CBA are scheduled to play Friday night. The Red Raiders head to Ohio to play Walsh Jesuit, not the easiest of road trips, while CBA opens league play against Section III foe Syracuse-Henninger.
The big winner Saturday night: ex-Maple Grove star Randall Secky. He remains No. 2 all-time in career passing yards in Western New York, as St. Francis quarterback Jerry Hickson still needs 134 to pass Secky’s total of 5,915.
In addition to depriving fans a chance at seeing two of the top teams in the state play each other, the cancellation also means Hickson now has one fewer game to pursuit of Joe Licata’s WNY passing mark of 6,671 yards.
St. Francis’ home opener now will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 against defending state Class AA champion Aquinas of Section V.