Joe Davidson

Camp Fire fallout includes postponed football games; how this region is affected

Drone flyover shows Camp Fire destruction in Paradise

Flyover shows the destruction from the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire, in Paradise on Nov. 13, 2018.
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Flyover shows the destruction from the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire, in Paradise on Nov. 13, 2018.

The high school football playoffs are in a virtual holding pattern throughout Northern California, rooted in a region where a team has no more season to play for or even a town to call home due to the deadliest wildfire in state history.

Smoke from the Camp Fire blaze that has scorched some 125,000 acres, all but obliterated the town of Paradise and left at least 42 dead, hundreds still unaccounted for and thousands displaced continues to cast an ominous shadow.

The CIF - California’s governing body for prep sports - announced Tuesday the Northern California and state finals will be pushed back a week to accommodate schedule changes for teams that could not compete due to poor air quality.

The NorCal finals are now scheduled for Dec. 7 and 8 at home sites with the CIF finals now slotted for Dec. 14-15, allowing sections time to finish their brackets. This all came about Tuesday after the 10 section commissioners in the state had a conference call with CIF executives Roger Blake, Ron Nocetti and staff.

The Central Coast and North Coast sections in the Bay Area had to postpone games from last Friday and Saturday to Monday of this week, and then again to this weekend because of the smoke concerns. Similar postponements occurred in the Northern Section that stretches to the Oregon border. This section includes the Paradise Bobcats, who pulled the plug on their season because players, coaches, students and faculty who lost their homes were scrambling to find places to stay or searching for friends and loved ones.

“We reviewed the schedules with the 10 CIF Sections and came to a unanimous agreement that the best course of action is to cause as least disruption as possible for all those participating in our Regional and State Championship events,” said Blake, the CIF executive director, in a news release. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during a time where schedules need to be fluid due to unfortunate events beyond our control.”

The lone section in Northern California not affected by the smoke in terms of games being rescheduled is the Sac-Joaquin Section, home to Sacrament Bee coverage teams. But that may change this week.

The Sac-Joaquin Section office is closely monitoring the air quality, as area coaches understand practices have to be moved indoors.

Section assistant commissioner and media relations director Will DeBoard said, “We’ll be making an announcement concerning this week’s playoff football games by Wednesday. We’re waiting the extra day to get a more concrete forecast from the various air quality boards throughout the (section).

“If the air is in the unhealthy range, we will almost definitely be postponing those games and pushing everything back one week. At the moment, the air quality forecasts do not look good.”

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