SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A month before the high school football season was scheduled to kick off, the governing body for high school sports in the state called an audible.
“It really became crystalized last week when the governor’s office made their announcement about schools starting with distance learning because there is a potential for over 80% of our population to be impacted by that,” California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Ron Nocetti said. “I think the most important focus for us was to allow our schools to figure out how were they going to educate our students and then sports to return when it’s healthy and safe to do so.”
Instead of the traditional fall, winter and spring seasons, the CIF is moving to a two-season model with games beginning in early January.
Each of the state’s 10 sections also released schedules on Monday in accordance to the CIF.
Locally, the Sac-Joaquin section is allowing five sports to begin practice in December and then start competition around the new year.
“The most important thing is that we get back to playing. And yeah, it’s probably going to look different and, certainly, the dates are different but we hope, and you talk to these kids, we kind of need to be out there,” Sac-Joaquin Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard said.
“I think by the time we get going, we’ll all be so thankful and so grateful to be doing it that I think there’s going to be a little bit of an ‘I’ll take what I can get’ sort of an attitude about it,” St. Mary’s High School football coach Tony Franks said.
“At least they have a plan in place and they’re looking at actually playing,” parent Dave Falcone told FOX40.
Falcone and his son, Christopher, who is a lineman for Pleasant Grove High School, rallied more than a month ago, demanding a plan from the Elk Grove Unified School District to allow Christopher to play.
“It’s less than ideal but it’s more than what we thought we were going to get at first,” Christopher said.
After CIF’s announcement, Christopher said he is looking forward to playing again.
“Our team is going to keep conditioning, we’re going to keep preparing for the season,” said Christopher. “This time is just going to give us more time to be prepared for the season and, hopefully, that brings us far into the playoffs.”
Monday’s announcement adjusts the seasons for all high school sports but, surprisingly, what it doesn’t do is drastically reduce the length of each sports season.
“So football still has 11 weeks to play 10 games, volleyball is still the same, soccer is still the same,” DeBoard said. “As far as the length of season, it’s about the same.”
Moving all sports to after the new year, however, does present some problems going forward, such as recruiting, the shortage of officials and senior athletes graduating early to join their college teams in the spring.
“I hope that is kept to a minimum and we can all kind of fight through this together and supporting each other and staying unified in what our purpose is and what our goals are,” Franks told FOX40.
“I’m happy with it that it’s out there,” Falcone said. “But there’s so much time between now and then, I’m still worried about what could come out between now and then.”
“While we know there may be some student-athletes that have to make some choices, for example, football players that may leave early for college, we understand that,” Nocetti said. “But I think this plan does the best that we can for the most student-athletes.”