High school foot­ball: Most play­off games post­poned by smoke.

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Mitch Stephens

In an un­prece­dented change, the four Bay Area sec­tions post­poned 39 of its 48 foot­ball games sched­uled to be played Fri­day or Sat­ur­day be­cause of poor air qual­ity caused by the dev­as­tat­ing Camp Fire in Butte County.

The North Coast Sec­tion post­poned 16 of its 24 play­off games — mostly to Mon­day — and the Cen­tral Coast Sec­tion moved nine of its quar­ter­fi­nal play­off games to Sat­ur­day and seven to Mon­day.

The Oak­land Sec­tion de­layed its two semi­fi­nal games to next Fri­day (Nov. 16), and the Aca­demic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion sim­ply moved its reg­u­lar-sea­son games back a day from Fri­day to Sat­ur­day.

NCS Com­mis­sioner Gil Lem­mon said the sec­tion took into ac­count what league rep­re­sen­ta­tives, schools, stu­dents, par­ents and coaches had en­dured last year dur­ing the North Bay wild­fires.

The lo­gis­tics were stag­ger­ing, “but noth­ing like the real night­mares the ac­tual com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple who lost homes and lives them-

selves,” Lem­mon said. “You al­ways have to keep that in mind. The big pic­ture.”

Lem­mon said the de­ci­sion to post­pone the games was un­prece­dented, but nec­es­sary.

An NCS by­law pro­hibits games from be­ing played with an air-qual­ity in­dex read­ing of 150 or above. Lem­mon said for the pre­vi­ous 24 hours, the sec­tion mon­i­tored three air read­ing mea­sures for ci­ties in which the foot­ball games were sched­uled.

Those pro­jected well be­low 150 were kept as sched­uled. Lem­mon said that travel dis­tance and crowd size were other fac­tors in which games were post­poned.

The two Open Divi­sion games pit­ting four of the top six teams in the Bay Area — Pitts­burg at De La Salle-Con­cord on Fri­day and Clay­ton Val­leyCon­cord at Lib­erty-Brent­wood on Sat­ur­day — were not changed. Lem­mon said the air qual­ity in­dex Fri­day near De La Salle was at 40.

“Wait­ing un­til the last minute to make a change didn’t make sense,” he said. “There are so many mov­ing parts. We couldn’t be willy nilly on this. We felt this is the best op­tion to go based on all the in­for­ma­tion we re­ceived.”

Lem­mon said all semi­fi­nal games, un­less the smoke gets worse, will be played Nov. 17, giv­ing teams as much rest as pos­si­ble. Only four days be­tween games (for those forced to play Mon­day) is not ideal, but “un­for­tu­nately, that’s the cards we’ve been dealt,” he said.

The 140-school CCS does not have air-qual­ity guide­lines writ­ten into its by­laws, ac­cord­ing to as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner Steve Fil­ios, be­cause of the wide va­ri­ety of cli­mates within its sec­tion, which goes from San Fran­cisco to King City (Mon­terey County).

Fil­ios said the sec­tion’s cross-coun­try cham­pi­onships, which were sched­uled for Sat­ur­day in Bel­mont, have been moved to Mon­day. The sec­tion’s ten­nis and wa­ter-polo cham­pi­onships also could be af­fected.

“We’re see­ing most of the air-qual­ity prob­lems from Sun­ny­vale north,” Fil­ios said early Fri­day af­ter­noon. “We’re play­ing each game and event on a case-by-case ba­sis.”

Ev­i­dently, the winds shifted. By late af­ter­noon, all but four of the 18 CCS games sched­uled for Fri­day were post­poned to Sat­ur­day or Mon­day.

The CIF re­leased a state­ment stat­ing it has and will al­ways act flu­idly in sched­ul­ing cham­pi­onship events.

“The CIF in co­op­er­a­tion with our 10 Sec­tions is mon­i­tor­ing the var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions and the health and safety of our stu­dent-ath­letes is our #1 pri­or­ity. Please note that all CIF play­off con­tests could be post­poned, de­layed, moved, etc. and we’ll up­date ev­ery­one as nec­es­sary.”

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