The last chance for a fall high school football calendar in California evaporated Tuesday as the state Department of Health released updated youth sports guidelines. The "interim" ban against "tournaments, events or competitions" shutters plans by small, mountain schools in the Northern Section to cobble a schedule that avoids playing football during the winter months.
On July 20, the CIF shifted its three-season calendar to a two-term model beginning after the first of the year. The Northern Section countered with its own plan to allow its 73 member schools the chance to piece a schedule together as many of its communities remain well below the state threshold for COVID-19 infections.
Fall River (McArthur)
football coach Todd Sloat had proposed a breakaway, one-year league comprised of Division V schools in Shasta, Siskiyous, Plumas and Modoc counties to play in the fall. The push against the CIF calendar sought to avoid the state's December practice start. Sloat cited frigid winter temperatures and conditions, in addition to travel concerns, among the reasons for the mountain schools to create the rogue schedule. Last season, Fall River beat Los Molinos for the section's Division V title in a foot of snow in McArthur.
"We're done. I just don't see us being able to do it," Sloat said Tuesday.
Kerri Schuette, a spokesperson with Shasta County Public Health, said the new guidelines call for sports that can't be socially distanced to cease.
"We have to follow the state guidelines," she said. "We can be more restrictive (than the state), but not less."
As it stands, the CIF calls for football and volleyball from December to April in what's called the fall season. The spring season has baseball/softball and basketball running concurrently, another issue for small schools like Fall River which rely on multi-sport athletes to fill out rosters.
"(The CIF schedule provides) extra challenges of trying to fit games in as well as health and logistic reasons," Sloat said. "It's pretty disappointing. From a community standpoint, fall sports
are a big deal to our kids and it's something that is going to carry
over as well."