Posted: 12:38 am Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Nature Coast coach says game with Pahokee too risky 

By Jason Lieser

Brooksville-Nature Coast is the second team to schedule a pre-season game with the Pahokee Blue Devils, then cancel it.

Pahokee originally was slated to play Miami Northwestern on Aug. 28 to christen the Blue Devils’ new field. Northwestern later backed out when Pahokee insisted on hosting the game.

Blue Devils coach Blaze Thompson then set up a game with Nature Coast, which was disqualified from the playoffs after a brawl, but Nature Coast coach Mark Lee told the St. Petersburg Times he could not risk a game against a team with Pahokee’s reputation.

“We don’t want our last game to be our preseason game,” Lee said. “We have two strikes against us. One more and we’re out. …Playing Pahokee would be like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

Actually, that comment itself will probably be like gasoline on a fire. Pahokee has had some discipline issues lately (like the Nike incident), but those are strong words from Lee. For the full context behind his concern, consider the work of his predecessor. The previous coach, Jamie Joyner, was suspended for his role in last season’s fight and then again for allegedly meeting a female Nature Coast student off-campus. He resigned in April during the second suspension.

Take that history into account and it helps explain why Lee would cancel a game if he thought it had potential to cause more problems.

Thompson confirmed Wednesday the Nature Coast matchup is cancelled, but said he has been in talks with several other schools still looking for a game. One area team still in need of a game is Atlantic, which is Pahokee’s Week 1 opponent.