Fins in Trouble

Miami looks to break through at home

SUN 9/26

Oh boy. This season is off to a very familiar start for the Miami Dolphins. They lost the season opener at home for a second straight year, dropping a 17-7 decision to the Tennessee Titans. Most troubling was not the loss, but the coaching staff's waffling. The entire off-season was littered with back and forth indecision between incumbent quarterback Jay Fiedler and newcomer A.J. Feeley. It took Dave Wannstedt months to finally decide to stick with Fiedler in the opener, but by halftime, trailing only 7-0, Wanns pulled his starter in favor of the new kid on the block. Granted, Feeley played better in the second half than Fiedler did in the first. That's why most think Feeley should have been in all along, and the staff's uncertainty troubles Dolphin Nation. What's more, the team's having fewer playmakers than in years past might signal more losses on the horizon. Team leader Zach Thomas knows the Fins have much room for improvement. "We got a long way to go to be a good team," he says. "If guys aren't making plays, put somebody else in there. That's all that matters."

If there was a silver lining for Dolfans, it was that this time around, the season-opening loss came against a good Titans team, whereas last year's loss was versus a very poor Texas team. But even that silver lining disappeared after Sunday's brutal, disappointing, and downright embarrassing loss to Cincinnati. Which brings us to Week 3 of the NFL season. The Dolphins return today to Pro Player Stadium (2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami) for a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The match-up will be a treat for transplanted Pennsylvanians, as the Steelers visit Miami for the first time since 1998. It could also be a good omen for the Dolphins. The last time they met, the Fins shut out Pittsburgh 21-0. The Fins have had only three shutouts since, the last in 2000. Maybe the Steelers are just what the ailing Dolphins need. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Call 954-452-7000. -- Russ Evans

High School Football Rules!

THU 9/23

There's nothing quite like South Florida high school football. Sure, other cities around the nation toss the pigskin, but it's hard to imagine any one-stoplight town in the middle of nowhere stacking up to the talented youth all over the tri-county area. This weekend, Broward boasts two games in particular that promise to offer a bunch of big-time players and plays. In Pompano Beach, St. Thomas Aquinas will go against Blanche Ely (1201 NW 6th Ave.). The Raiders are full of talent, as St. Thomas is a perennial hotbed for top players. For the Tigers, Carlton Jackson is the undisputed leader and one of the best quarterbacks in the county. A little farther inland, Douglas will visit Plantation (6901 NW 16th St.). The Colonels are one of the best teams in the state, led by defensive lineman Jeff Owens and running back Dennis Campbell. As for Douglas, Coach Elliot Bonner has a good back of his own in Jon Barrett. Look for each team to stay on the ground and chew up time on long drives. Both games start at 7 p.m. Call 954-786-3600 (Ely) or 754-322-1850 (Plantation). -- Russ Evans

Zoo Sweepers Needed

Frances left animals homeless

MON 9/27

If you think prepping for Hurricane Frances was a bitch, you ought to see what the staff of the Palm Beach Zoo had to do: move two dozen spoonbills and their tree into the bathroom; stash kangaroos in the same nighthouse as the tiger; and secure 900 other animals. A hawk, an ibis, several ducks, and some 25-year-old koi were killed in the storm. Many animals are still stressed out from living in temporary shelters, and the zoo is still losing money every day, as the grounds remain impassable and therefore closed. So far, more than 460 volunteers have come forth to help restore the facility -- but more help will be needed for months. Bring a rake, a push broom, or a wheelbarrow, wear closed-toe shoes, and prepare to get dirty. Check in at the zoo (1301 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach) any day between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sorry, but only volunteers age 18 and older are allowed. Call 561-533-0887, or visit -- Deirdra Funcheon

Show Me Some Vein

SUN 9/26

The Third Annual Greater Hollywood Body Building, Figure and Fitness Competitions celebrate an average life, if an average life consists of ten daily meals, five gym hours a day, four percent body fat, diuretics, carb depletion, weigh-ins, and bronzed flesh. Egg yolks? Skin on the broiled chicken breast? Dammit, are you trying to kill me? Sanctioned by the National Physique Committee (the amateur bodybuilding and fitness arm of the International Federation of Bodybuilding), the championships are divided into a dizzying number of categories. However, they boil down to three main sections. Show off your mass in "Bodybuilding," dazzle with your gymnastics in "Fitness," or light up the room with your killer bod in "Figure." All competitions are at the Hollywood Performing Arts Center (1770 Monroe St., Hollywood), beginning with weigh-in at 8 a.m. It costs $40 to enter and $15 to $45 to watch. Call 954-923-4343. -- Dave Amber

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