- Feature Story
- George Becnel
- October 10, 2017 - 2:41pm
The cancellation of the Riverside Academy at South Plaquemines football game slated for last Friday because of the approach of Hurricane Nate could have been handled in a better fashion, asserted Chris Lachney, the head football coach of the Rebels.
“In light of what happened last week, I think the whole process was mismanaged by South Plaquemines,” Lachney said. “I’m not going to speculate as to why and I’m certainly not going to be insensitive to tropical storms and hurricanes and how they affect that area. They get it worse than anybody and I don’t want to sound like I’m being numb to their circumstances, because I’m not. When a storm is coming and you are living in Port Sulphur and Buras, that’s a real thing.”
An attempt was made by Riverside, Lachney said, to have the game moved up to Thursday.
“We tried to avoid those issues,” Lachney said. “Had they said, ‘no, we can’t play it on Thursday because our families are already starting to evacuate and it wouldn’t be the right thing to do,’ then I would have tipped my hat to them and told them good luck and we are praying for you. Their mantra all along was, ‘we’re going to play Friday at 7; we’re going to play Friday at 7. It’s not necessary to take the precautions.’
“I’m sure they have the Weather Channel in Port Sulphur. I find it hard to believe that the only person that didn’t know that this game wouldn’t be played Friday at 7 was the principal at South Plaquemines.”
John Barthelemy, Jr., the principal at South Plaquemines High, had a different version of the situation.
“It’s unfortunate that the coach doesn’t understand and basically is insensitive to what we deal with on a yearly basis,” Barthelemy said. “When it comes down to insuring that we are taking the proper precaution and necessary steps to insure that our kids can play if they can but also to make sure our families and community is safe.
“It was never discussed with me to play on Thursday,” Barthelemy continued. “The football game was never discussed with the principal of South Plaquemines High School to play the game on Thursday.
“I spoke to the principal of Riverside late Thursday evening about playing a football game on Friday. I told the principal that ‘as of right now, the game is still scheduled for Friday. As of right now, we will not know until our Parish meets with the local office of homeland security and emergency preparedness to determine whether or not we will evacuate. Right now, my main goal is the safety of our kids and our community.’ I was waiting on further instruction from the Parish office of homeland security and emergency preparedness to give us some factual information as it relates to hurricane procedures and readiness.”
The cancellation of the South Plaquemines game meant a second open date over the first six games of Riverside’s schedule. Scheduled with a Week 10 bye, the Rebels, who are 1-3 on the year, only will play seven regular-season games this season.
The Riverside coach said he was just trying to do what was best for his school and team in attempting to have the South Plaquemines game on Thursday.
“What I know is that the coach at South Plaquemines (Lyle Fitte) and myself discussed on several occasions playing the game on Thursday and our principals discussed the possibility of playing the game on Thursday,” Lachney said. “Like I said, if their response had been, ‘we don’t have enough information to make that call,” then I would have supported it – and I’ve got to live with whatever it is – but I would have understood that.
“The response back to me was that all of the precautions we were trying to take were not necessary because they felt strongly that they were playing the game on Friday. That’s my whole thing; that we could have avoided it all. If they didn’t have a team on Thursday, then I would not have forced the issue to play. If they weren’t in the best circumstances to compete on Thursday, then I would not have pushed the issue but their coach told me they had a full practice with their entire team on Thursday. We could have played the game, that’s my whole point.”
The Riverside coach said he and his team have moved on and are preparing to take on Newman on Friday in New Orleans.
“That’s in the past. Just like he (Barthelemy) has to fight for his community and his kids, I have the same obligation to mine and to make sure that our kids know that Riverside Academy and Coach Lachney did everything they could to put our kids and our team in the best position to compete as well.