ANTELOPE, Calif. (KTXL) — For players and coaches across the state, the silence on high school football fields has been there too long.
“Oh yeah, it’s like a ghost town. But that’s OK, change is coming. Absolutely,” said Antelope High School football coach Reggie Harris.
In mid-February, Gov. Gavin Newsom said counties with COVID-19 caseloads of 14 or fewer per 100,000 residents were good to play football starting Friday.
For 10 of the 16 counties that make up the Sac-Joaquin Section, that was great news.
“Once your county is there by the adjusted case-rate that is by the state, you can start prepping for football,” explained Will DeBoard, Sac-Joaquin Section assistant commissioner.
The reality though is only 49 of 176 section schools will get the green light Friday to begin full contact practices. That’s just 28%.
The other 127 schools, which are spread across Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Sutter and Yuba counties all must wait.
“Our other six counties, four of them are our most populous counties,” DeBoard explained. “They’re not there yet, but they’re close. All of a sudden, 14 has become the most important number in the Sac-Joaquin Section really across the state.”
It’s a state-wide rule that teams must have 10 full days of contact practices before playing their first game. Those programs that begin Friday can play a real game on March 12.
For the counties that are close, like Sacramento, Sutter, Yuba and San Joaquin, health officials think they probably will reach that 14-case threshold by Tuesday and may be allowed to play their first games on March 13.
“That’s awesome and we’re excited because, here at Antelope, we stay ready so we don’t have to get ready,” Harris said. “We’re approaching an opportunity for the kids to enjoy a sport they love and having fun doing it.”
“Have quite a few leagues in those counties that are planning on starting on the 19th, “ DeBoard said. “Some want to move up to the 13th. We’re definitely taking calls about playing on the 13th. And again, Placer, El Dorado counties, you’re going to be seeing games in those counties on the 12th.”
If things go as planned, most schools in Sac-San Joaquin Section will have five, maybe six games on their schedule with some a little less.
Players, coaches and fans said it will be great to have high school football back starting March 12.
All student-athletes must test weekly for COVID-19. At his press conference last in mid-February, Gov. Newsom said the state will pay for those tests.