High school foot­ball games smoked out

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - By Mitch Stephens

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.

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