Column: Raiders, Gators and Irma
So, did you miss us?
Could you live without sports in our Tuesday and Wednesday papers? Or have you had bigger concerns this week?
Of course you have. Me, too.
Not even at the top of my list of concerns this week has been what to do for a Friday column. It was supposed to be a look back at Putnam County’s last 10-0 football team, the 2007 Crescent City Raiders, who were supposed to be saluted at the Crescent City-Wildwood game tonight.
Now there won’t be a Crescent City-Wildwood game. Not tonight, not Monday, not this season – leaving the question of how the North Central Florida Football Conference standings will shake out. It doesn’t look like the Pierson Taylor-The Villages game will be made up, either, according to Crescent City athletic director Tim Ross.
“I would venture to say winning percentage. I don’t know,” Ross said Thursday. In any event, one less conference game for some teams ratchets up the significance
Recognition of the 2007 team will probably take place Oct. 13, when the Raiders host Umatilla, Ross said.
It will be a night of fond memories in Crescent City, if bittersweet without Al Wisnoski, who coached the 2007 Raiders and passed away in 2011. It is the only team in the county to post a perfect regular season this century. Palatka last did it in 1999, Interlachen in ‘86.
The ’07 Raiders scored four touchdowns in every game but two, wins of 13-6 over The Villages and 19-6 over Daytona Beach Father Lopez. They hung 56 points on Hawthorne, 55 on Winter Park Trinity Prep and 60 on Warner Christian, a Daytona private school that would rise to statewide prominence over the next couple of years. The great ride ended with a 23-0, first-round playoff loss to Clearwater Central Catholic.
n You may have noticed that your humble correspondent was joined Thursday by three of the other four experts on the PDN Pigskin Prognostication Panel – all but Allison Waters – in picking Tennessee to beat Florida Saturday in Gainesville. I will confess that at least on my part, that may be an overreaction to the stinker the Gators played Sept. 2 against Michigan in Dallas.
Even in their salad days under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, Florida’s play in openers often was such to arouse concern about how the Gators would fare against Tennessee if they couldn’t do any better than this against East Pipsqueak. The difference is, of course, that Florida opened against a big-time opponent this time.
Will these Gators rebound as others have from so-so openers and beat Tennessee or will they flounder as they did the last two times they dropped their first game? The ’89 season began with a 24-19 loss to Ole Miss and wound up 7-5. The ’87 team was routed in Miami, 31-4, and finished 6-6. Each of those clubs lost bowl games out west – the ’87 team falling 20-16 to Troy Aikman and UCLA in the Aloha Bowl, the ’89 Gators losing 34-7 to Washington in the Freedom Bowl.
Tip to Florida in future scheduling: Avoid openers with teams whose initials are UM. The last three, against the University of Michigan, the University of Mississippi and the University of Miami, haven’t gone so well.
n Were those the Jacksonville Jaguars who opened Sunday by thrashing the Houston Texans with a dominant defense, a strong ground game and mistake-free passing by Blake Bortles? Sure, that’s how the new regime of Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin said they would win this season, but who knew?
n There is a new means of identifying the redheaded stepchild of the county.
It is now how much or how little this newspaper covers your favorite team. It is how soon your power is restored.
Seriously, from one redheaded stepchild to the rest: Best wishes in recovering from Irma and God bless all involved in recovery efforts.
Andy Hall is sports editor of the Palatka Daily News.