Posted: 7:01 pm Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
By Matt Porter
A week after announcing it would play its 2011 season opener against an Atlanta team in Carrolton, Ga., King’s Academy has a different opponent on the schedule for Week 1.
“You’re not going to believe this, man,” Lions coach Craig Dobson said.
Though King’s Academy thought it was a done deal, Atlanta-Westminster’s head coach, Gerry Romberg, never signed his end of the contract that would pit his team against King’s Academy in the Gridiron Challenge Sept. 3.
“We signed a contract and everything,” Dobson said. “They’re not going to admit it, but they didn’t want to play us. I called them to talk about their team and how they look, and they said oh, we’re not playing you anymore.”
The event’s organizer, Billy Fleming, confirmed that Romberg demanded to play another team.
“To be honest with you, it boils down to they saw something in King’s Academy they didn’t want to play,” Fleming said. “The rug got pulled out from under me, too.”
Dobson said he tried to talk to Romberg, “but that coach, he didn’t want to talk. I called him four other times and he never returned our calls.”
Romberg’s team, which has a record of 101-60 in his 15 seasons as coach, will instead play Glen St. Mary-Baker County, a Jacksonville-area Class 2A team.
King’s will now open its 2011 season with a game against Tallahassee-North Florida Christian at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Oct 2 in Tallahassee.
The school won’t lose any money, but Dobson said parents, players and administrators are frustrated. Dobson was lining up buses and hotels for the trip when he received the news.
“They faxed us the contact, we signed it and sent it back. It even had a bailout clause that said if we didn’t follow through, we would be subject to a $15,000 loss. The administration brought me in and said coach, are you sure you want to do this? And I said yeah, we’re ready to go, we’re going to Atlanta.
“I called Billy [Fleming] and he said coach, they don’t want to play you,” Dobson said. “I said we already informed the paper about it. It makes us look bad, it makes everybody look bad. I said you left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
“I did not foresee that. We signed the contract and thought it was a done deal.”
Last year’s inaugural Gridiron Challenge was held in Daytona Beach and included eight schools – four from Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, and four from Florida, including Glades Central and Glades Day. After dismal gate revenues – which he blamed on the city’s lack of promotional effort – Fleming said he would not bring the event back to Daytona Beach. This year’s Gridiron Challenge in Carrolton, Ga. was to include teams from Florida and Georgia.
Fleming said he is currently organizing high school football events in several states, and that schools from Florida – mostly Broward and Dade Counties, no Palm Beach County teams – would be involved.