Tifton Gazette

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August 21, 2013

Purple Hurricanes blue about rain

TIFTON — Jason Strickland's main concern Friday night is perhaps not his Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes. It may be the weather.

"We need the rain to hold off," he said.

They are scheduled to face the Jefferson County Warriors at Jaycee Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

It seems that rain has been foremost on everyone's minds lately. The wet stuff has certainly played havoc with everyone's routines. Of the seven scrimmages scheduled last week for area schools, nearly half were cancelled or postponed.

The Canes were one of the lucky teams that did play last week, albeit with a major adjustment. They were originally to have traveled to Twin City to play Emanuel County Institute. However, ECI's field was underwater and they asked the Canes if they could instead come south.

In the days since then, it is Fitzgerald who has felt the wrath of the wet stuff.

"Our fieldhouse is flooded, the field is flooded, the practice field is flooded," said Strickland.

It has affected practice. He said they have not been able to get full reps all week and while there is the chance they will have to make new plans for this week's game, but he remains optimistic they will play. "As long we don't have rain Friday."

He is happy with the way the ECI game turned out. After the Bulldogs trounced them last year, they won this year's contest, 13-12.

"It was pretty physical," he said, adding that several of his players were still banged up.

The two schools have only met each other once in history; last year's game at Louisville ended 23-6 in favor of Fitzgerald. The Warriors would go on to an up-and-down season that saw them finish the regular season 4-6, but in the state playoffs. They lost in the first round to Peach County, 35-21.

On the other hand, the Canes had a 10-3 year, reaching the state quarterfinals where another Jefferson — the Jefferson Dragons — slipped past them 53-51 in a game featuring five Ron Swain touchdowns, a fierce Fitzgerald comeback and three overtimes.

Strickland said his opposition is "very athletic, one of the fastest teams we'll see this year." He said Jefferson County played well in their scrimmage game against Glenn Hills. "We're going to have to play well."

After this week, the Canes will have an off-week before playing nine straight. The first of these will be the annual battle with the Irwin County Indians, to be played in Ocilla.

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