Kincade fire's impacts have prep football teams scrambling once again
With several high school football games canceled or in jeopardy due to fire-related concerns, North Bay League administrators crafted a plan Tuesday to finish the abbreviated regular season fairly and help playoff-bound teams, while keeping safety paramount.
A 90-minute conference call with 28 representatives from the 12 schools in the NBL Oak and Redwood Divisions resulted in an agreement on how divisional titles would be awarded if they can’t be settled on the field.
And all but a few schools expressed the desire to play their final games this week, either Friday or Saturday, if they can find practice venues and game sites.
Still, the final week of regular-season games remains up in the air, given the fluid nature of the Kincade fire itself, changing evacuation orders, whether schools have electricity and fields are playable and whether athletes are even available to play after evacuating.
It’s the third consecutive year North Bay schools have been forced to work around scheduling issues caused by fires in Northern California, from the Tubbs fire in 2017, to the Camp fire last year and the ongoing Kincade fire still burning uncontrolled in northern Sonoma County.
After last year’s unsatisfying coin flip that ended Cardinal Newman’s Paradise fire-abbreviated North Coast Section playoff run, the league wanted to avoid a similar end.
Windsor High School administrators proposed a points system to declare which NBL teams would win their respective divisions.
“It’s a remarkably easy plan,” said NBL Commissioner Jan Smith Billing.
The proposal takes into account the different number of games some teams will have played by the end of the season on Saturday.
In both divisions, the current leaders would win according a formula that awards two points per victory, divided by the number of games played to account for the different number of contests completed.
Cardinal Newman, at 3-0 in the Oak Division, and Piner, 3-0 in Redwood, would win the titles.
Tuesday’s proposal modified an initial scoring plan that would have simply given points for each victory, not accounting for unequal game numbers. That could have shuffled the standings and meant an undefeated team might not have won the league title.
Newman missed out on a game last week when Santa Rosa City Schools canceled its game with Maria Carrillo, and its game with Analy isn’t certain this week, so it could only have three league games out of a possible five.
At the same time, second-place Rancho Cotate, which did play last week, is set to play Ukiah. If Rancho wins, the Cougars would be 4-1. If the 3-0 Cardinals didn’t play again, Rancho would have won the title despite Newman being undefeated in league.
Piner and Santa Rosa are scheduled to face off in the Redwood’s final divisional game this week, which could determine the title. Piner is 3-0 and Santa Rosa 2-0.
The Panthers would win the title with a victory. But Piner, 9-0 overall, wants the chance run the table in its best season in more than 15 years and earn an automatic NCS playoff bid with a league championship banner.
“We’re waiting for the district to approve the Santa Rosa-Piner contest in a different location that is safe for everyone,” said Piner athletic director Marc Anderson. “We’re trying to make that game happen if at all possible.”