High school football games smoked out
The North Bay fires that have taken 31 lives and have had a devastating effect on thousands of families are wreaking havoc on something far less significant, but something tried and true: Friday night high school football.
As of Thursday evening, 43 of the 56 games scheduled for Friday in the Metro Area had been canceled or postponed due to poor air quality caused by the fires. Five of the nine games planned for Saturday also won’t be played.
More games were expected to be wiped out Friday morning
once league and school officials check air quality, which wasn’t expected to improve much.
For coaches not knowing whether their games will be played, it’s hard to plan. Air quality was so bad Thursday that most practices were canceled as mandated by school districts.
Games are not postponed or canceled by section officials but by leagues and individual schools.
“It’s a tricky, fluid situation having to manage 60 teenagers without knowing if you can practice or play,” Serra head coach Patrick Walsh said before learning that his sixthranked team’s West Catholic Athletic League game at No. 5 St. Francis on Friday had been postponed. “That said, I think of (coach) Paul Cronin at Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) and all he and his community is dealing with. We all live in a bubble. There’s much bigger issues than football.
“Maybe instead of practicing or playing we should gather clothes and supplies and deliver it to the North Bay.”
Central Coast Section officials held an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon and moved back the section’s playoffs a week to accommodate teams that postpone games this week.
While most of the state’s 10 sections take four weeks to complete their playoffs, the CCS does it in three. Thursday’s action opened the door to move this week’s postponed games to the weekend of Nov. 10 and move the playoffs back a week to be completed Dec. 1-2.
Northern California regional playoffs begin Dec. 8-9.
Once that was decided, representatives from the eightteam WCAL, 12-team Santa Clara Valley Athletic League and 18-team Peninsula Athletic League decided to postpone all games Friday and Saturday.
They joined the 24-team Blossom Valley Athletic League, based largely in San Jose, which had already decided to not to play.
Walsh said the option to play Nov. 10 is much better than moving games to Saturday or even Monday, which had been proposed. Even those options weren’t solid because poor air quality might persist for many days.
“I think this was the bestcase scenario of a difficult situation,” Walsh said.
The two North Coast Section leagues in the middle of the fires, the North Bay and Sonoma County leagues, canceled all sporting events for the week as early as Tuesday. The Marin County Athletic League made the same decision Thursday.
These games will not be made up.
The Tri-County Athletic League canceled all four of its games, though makeups Saturday or Monday have been discussed.
Bay Valley Athletic League powers Pittsburg and Antioch postponed their Friday games against Deer Valley-Antioch and Freedom-Oakley, respectively, but plan to play Saturday instead, air quality permitting.
Most of the other teams from the NCS will make a decision Friday morning, including the Tri-Valley-based East Bay Athletic League.
The Oakland Athletic League postponed all three of its games and discussed possible makeup dates Thursday evening. The OAL regularseason title was to have been determined between unbeaten teams McClymonds and Fremont on Friday at Curt Flood Field.
San Francisco’s public league, the Academic Athletic Association, is taking a waitand-see approach, said its commissioner, Don Collins.
Thursday afternoon’s game pitting Lowell at Burton was postponed until Friday and will be played at Lowell. Two more AAA games are scheduled Saturday. MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The Chronicle.