JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Football may be physical but mother nature proved to be violent. "The hair was up on my skin. My son went close to me because he was like wow," said Sarah Grady of Johnston. Lily Crouse, an eighth grader could relate. She said, "It started shaking the ground and I'm over here like oh geez, it's probably gonna get cancelled." Lily was close, severe weather and lightning forced the Johnston vs Indianola football game into a holding pattern Friday night in Johnston. Joe Nelson, the Johnston Community School District Athletic and Activities Director, made the decision saying, "The safety of the fans and students is our first priority so we will wait this out until it is safe for everybody."
Fans and players were forced to leave the stadium as the rain, thunder and lightning filled the sky. "Our car shook and my sister freaked out because she's little," said Audrey Bristow.
While the Johnston's concession stand makes sure no fan leaves with an empty stomach it also served a shelter for fans to escape the elements during the lightning delay. "We were eating pizza and we just got it and I was about to eat it and it sounded like an explosion just happened," exclaimed Kaden Anderson. Sierra Mills added, "It shook the ground and the building. I could feel it. Oh it scared the crap out of me."
Even though it meant a top ten high school match up was delayed, fans like Grady were thankful. "Joe [Nelson] did a great job. He was on top of it and I heard him on his phone. He made sure they got everyone out quickly, swiftly and in a safe manner."
After an hour the severe weather loosened its grip, the skies opened up and the loud booms came only from fans and big plays on the field. "A little rain will not damper our enthusiasm. We think it's a big night for all of our kids whether it's the band, cheerleaders or football players. It is a game both schools are looking forward to," said Nelson."
The Iowa High School Athletic Association's weather guidelines require a delay of outdoor competition for thirty minutes after each lightning strike.