High school football: Most playoff games postponed by smoke.
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.”