By Tim Gayle
They started the year with just three home games. Now, they’re down to one.
Autauga Academy’s game with North Florida Christian was canceled on Thursday by North Florida Christian school administrators who did not want their players potentially traveling late Friday night into the path of Tropical Cyclone Nestor as they return to Tallahassee, Fla.
Eagles coach Steve Price notified Autauga coach Bobby Carr of the decision. Attempts by Carr to reschedule the game for Saturday were unsuccessful, leaving the Generals without a game on the night they planned to honor their seniors.
The Generals, which already lost a home date with Coosa Valley when the Rebels canceled their football season in mid-August, will wind up playing one regular-season game at home, a 40-16 win over Tuscaloosa Academy on Sept. 27 which served as the Generals’ homecoming.
Autauga will now hold Senior Night on Nov. 8 during the first round of the state playoffs. The Generals are guaranteed a first-round home game regardless of what happens next week in their AA Region 1 battle at Edgewood.
The two teams were in the second year of a home-and-home contract that permits the cancelation of games because of weather. North Florida Christian won the game in Tallahassee last year, 16-6. With just one home game, the Generals will lose money fielding a football team this fall.
“It kills us,” Carr said. “That’s why I think our (Alabama Independent School) Association needs to do something to help us all, not just some, as far as scheduling. The better teams are not going to get games. Look at the teams that are struggling for games and having to go out of state to play – us, Bessemer, Glenwood and Escambia. The other guys are getting together and playing each other. That just started a few years back and they need to give us a schedule that guarantees us eight or nine games.”
Autauga’s problem was exacerbated by the decisions of Evangel Christian and Coosa Valley, two region rivals, not to field football teams this fall. The decision by Evangel Christian came early enough for the other region rivals to find replacements, but Carr couldn’t find anyone that would play the Generals and Coosa Valley’s decision left Autauga, Lakeside and Springwood with open dates on their schedules that could not be filled.
Ironically, Evangel’s date on the Autauga roster was filled with North Florida Christian, which was originally scheduled for earlier in the year and was moved to fill the open date.
Both Evangel and Coosa Valley were scheduled to visit Autauga this season in the second year of the home-and-home contract, costing the Generals approximately $10,000 in lost revenue.
“We’ve lost a bunch,” Carr said. “When you’ve got a football budget that is, let’s say, $25,000, needless to say we didn’t make that on our one home game. The good thing is our junior varsity had five home games and three road games, so that made up a little bit. But most people go into a season banking on five home games.”