Miami football team stranded in Las Vegas takes to the parking lot for practice
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
Their homes are still standing, but it will be a while before they see them.
The Miami Central High School Football Team has been stuck in Las Vegas since their winning game against Bishop Gorman, all because of Hurricane Irma.
Miami International is now open, so some of the parent chaperones are leaving tonight and tomorrow ... but moving an entire football team is a bit more difficult.
It's looking like Friday before the players can get out, so on Tuesday, they used an empty parking lot to run some drills.
For players from Miami Central, learning to adapt has become part of this season's playbook.
The high school football team is still expected to practice, even 2,500 miles from home. Or, in this case, at a parking lot where the Riviera Hotel once stood.
"We packed extra clothes because we thought we'd be here for a few days so we were ready for it," said quarterback Tijuane Morten.
The team arrived in Las Vegas last week and defeated Bishop Gorman in a nationally-televised game.
However, it was another national story that stranded them here ... Hurricane Irma, barreling through their city.
One player, senior Hunter Goetz, had video captured from his neighborhood. Downed trees remain the biggest problem.
But, like everyone else on the team, Goetz's home was spared from major damage. Now, he says, he's ready to go back.
"It's just work," said Goetz. "It's a nice experience coming here, but I do want to go home, yeah."
Head Coach Roland Smith Jr. says the team will miss another football game scheduled for Thursday.
However, he says he's grateful for how the city has reached out to his team, including hosting dinners for the young men.
"We're told we'll fly out Friday," said Smith. "Las Vegas has been very nice to us, they treated us real well, taking care of us. I must say, this is a first class city."
As for the unusual practice field, Smith admits it is not ideal. However, for a team that's learned to adapt, running drills in the shadow of Las Vegas resorts is another first for the season.
"Do what we can, being creative, get our guys ready. Physically and mentally," said Smith.
Miami Central has won the state championship in Florida five times. Since beating Gorman, they've jumped in the national ranks too.
They now sit as the seventh best high school football team in the country. Gorman is 14th.