Two days after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of New Jersey, local athletic directors and coaches began to plan Wednesday for the resumption of high school games and practices.
One team, the Vineland girls soccer team, even played Wednesday.
The high school football season will be moved one week later and most other state tournament sports games will be postponed until Monday, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Wednesday.
If high school football teams want to play this upcoming weekend, the NJSIAA will not stop them, said executive director Steve Timko, but all other games scheduled for this weekend can be played next week.
The announcement came as welcome news to many local athletic directors and coaches.
"It would have been a tremendous hardship to play this weekend for the coaches, the fans and in particular the student-athletes," Atlantic City athletic director Frank Campo said. "There will be a lot of untold stories of what Atlantic City (athletes) went through this week."
Timko said cross-country sectionals and gymnastics tournaments have been postponed to next weekend. He said the boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball and field hockey tournaments would begin on Monday. But the NJSIAA will allow schools to play soccer, field hockey or volleyball games before Monday if both schools agree.
Timko said the NJSIAA is still trying to determine the sites and dates of championships games and they could be subject to change because of the rescheduling.
"I think we are trying to be very sensitive to what the schools are going through and the problems the schools have," Timko said. "We hope the schools will work together and work with us to come to a solution."
Several local schools have scheduled playoff soccer, field hockey and volleyball games for later this week.
The Buena Regional boys soccer team will face Bridgeton in a South Jersey Group II playoff game at 4 p.m. today. The game will be played on St. Augustine Prep's artificial grass field in the Richland section of Buena Vista Township.
"The kids are ready to go," Buena athletic director Dave Albertson said. "They want to play."
The Lenape girls beat Vineland 3-0 in a South Jersey Group IV first round game Wednesday. Vineland athletic director Don Robbins said both schools were in session Wednesday, so they mutually agreed to play the game.
"At some, it is what it is," Robbins said. "It's not ideal, but both teams are in the same boat."
The biggest changes are to football. The revamped playoff football schedule is as follows:
First round: Nov. 16-17
Second round: Nov. 30-Dec. 1
Championship games: Dec. 7-8.
This schedule allows Thanksgiving games to be played as scheduled.
Nearly every local football team postponed its games until next weekend. But two contests will be played this weekend. St. Joseph (7-0) will play at Mainland Regional (2-5) on Friday at 7 p.m., while Lower Cape May Regional (1-6) will play at Cedar Creek (7-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Ocean City is scheduled to host Egg Harbor Township this weekend. Egg Harbor Township athletic director Michael Pellegrino said that the game has been moved to Nov. 9, but that a decision on whether it will be played in Ocean City will be made on Tuesday.
The lack of games and practices has left athletes on their own as far as staying in shape. Rams wide receiver and defensive back Mike Gesicki said he's been running on treadmills and lifting weights in his Stafford Township home to stay in shape. Southern's football game against Toms River East has been tentatively moved to next Friday, Nov. 9. Gesicki said he and the rest of the Southern team would treat this off weekend like another bye week.
"It gives some of the injured guys time to heal," he said. "We're going to come back and be ready to finish our season strong."
The pushing back of the championship football games to the weekend of Dec. 7-8 will make for a hectic transition for some athletes. The basketball and wrestling seasons will start Dec. 14. Gesicki is also one of the region's top basketball players.
"I'd love to have that problem," Gesicki said. "Play for a state championship in football and them go to basketball practice 24 hours later."
Contact Michael McGarry: