Special to the PRESS

It was lightning more than rain that forced the cancellation of last Friday night’s non-district road football game between the Port Isabel Tarpons and the Hidalgo Pirates.

Some games in the Lower Rio Grande Valley were played as scheduled but quite a few others were either canceled or postponed.  Two games involving other District 4A Div. II games that will not be made up were Sinton at Rio Hondo and Progreso at Santa Maria.

“The reason we had to wait was the lightning,” Port Isabel head football coach Monty Stumbaugh said Monday. “The rain wasn’t that big of a deal. It wasn’t really raining that much.”

The basic protocol that must be followed is that if a lightning strike is observed anywhere within a six-mile radius of the stadium the two teams must leave the field and cannot come back out for at least 30 minutes.  Each time lightning is seen within that distance the teams are required to stay in the locker rooms another half-hour.

Around 8:50 p.m. the rain really began to fall at Bill Pate Stadium.  “I got a little wet running from their field house to the dressing room,” Stumbaugh said.

“We both wanted to play,” Stumbaugh told the Press this week.  David Duty is the head coach at Hidalgo.  “We both needed to play because we each needed to get better.  We were going to look at some kids.”

That it was a non-district contest made the decision to cancel easier.  “If it’s a district game you have to play it.  If we had been open this week we would have tried to play it because you don’t want to be off two weeks.”

The head man acknowledged that after all the preparation and build-up it’s hard to get back on the bus and go home without even starting the game.  “You want to play and the kids want to play.  You can’t beat that game experience.  The good news is that we worked out all week like we had a game.”

Practice is one thing and an actual game is quite another, as Stumbaugh explained.  “You miss the conditioning of playing a game.  You play yourself into football shape.  It was disap-pointing that we didn’t get to see some kids in a game.  You want to take a step forward every week.  Since we didn’t play last week, now we need to take two steps forward.”

Tarpon players and coaches started looking at game film of the Valley View team that will visit Port Isabel this Friday night.  Coach Stumbaugh made clear the changes in his team’s play that he needs to see this week.  “We’ve got to do a good job of controlling the ball and cut down on our penalties.  (Penalties) cost us several touchdowns in each game.”

One type of penalty Stumbaugh does not want to see anymore of is the one for unsportsmanlike conduct, the one that costs a team 15 yards.  “We need to walk away when people shove us.  We don’t do 15-yard penalties.  That’s not how we play.  You’ve got to let the scoreboard do the talking.”

Two games remain to be played before the district season starts with a home contest with Progreso on Oct. 9.  That game will be preceded by an open date on Oct. 2, and the last non-district game will be at Brownsville St. Joseph’s on Sept. 25.

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