NCS extends football regular season by a week due to Kincade fire
North Bay high school football teams received a welcome surprise Wednesday morning upon learning that the CIF North Coast Section extended the regular season a week to accommodate fire-related cancellations last week and likely this week.
In a letter to member schools, NCS commissioner Pat Cruickshank announced the extension, which pushes the beginning of playoffs back a week to Nov. 15 and 16.
That means games that cannot be played this weekend can be played Nov. 8 or 9. Games that were called off on Oct. 25 could be played this week or Monday, if schools can gather players and complete at least two practices.
Several games were called off last week because of air quality concerns or fears of evacuation orders as the Kincade fire spread Wednesday from The Geysers area north of Santa Rosa south and west toward populated areas.
PG&E cut off electricity before and during the crisis, and public safety officials ordered evacuations of nearly 190,000 people in Sonoma County.
As the fire threat lessened and air quality improved, league officials explored how they could finish the season, fairly decide league champions and help playoff-bound teams prepare for the postseason.
The section’s announcement came on the heels of a lengthy conference call between North Bay League administrators Tuesday, during which principals and athletic directors agreed on a formula to choose divisional winners if games couldn’t be played and ground rules for trying to squeeze in unplayed games within the existing NCS calendar.
“I was absolutely stunned because I had no knowledge that any of this was coming about,” said NBL Commissioner Jan Smith Billing. “But it’s wonderful. It eliminates a lot of problems. It would have been nice to have that information yesterday.”
In the Vine Valley Athletic League, the Egg Bowl rivalry game on Saturday between Casa Grande and Petaluma High was brought back to life. It was scheduled for Saturday, then canceled when the district stopped all school activities because of the poor air quality and lack of electricity residents have endured since last week — but it is back on for Saturday afternoon.
NBL coaches and ADs scrambled Wednesday to squeeze practices and games back into the schedule. As of mid-afternoon, one of three canceled Oct. 25 games had been rescheduled.
Maria Carrillo administrators said they cannot gather their evacuation-scattered students and get in two practices, so the Pumas will not schedule a makeup game against Cardinal Newman. Likewise, Healdsburg has said it will leave the Oct. 25 game against Santa Rosa unplayed but plans to host Montgomery next week. Montgomery will play at El Molino on Monday to make up for the game not played last Friday.
Administrators agreed on Tuesday that games unplayed will be declared “no contests,” not forfeits.
All games scheduled for this Friday have been rescheduled to Nov. 8.
Rancho Cotate at Ukiah
Maria Carrillo at Windsor
Cardinal Newman at Analy
Montgomery at Healdsburg
Piner at Santa Rosa
Harker at El Molino (nonleague).
The extra week was welcome news for Piner, which at 3-0 in league and 9-0 overall is in the midst of a record-setting season and seeking to win the NBL Redwood Division championship with a victory over Santa Rosa (2-0, 3-5).
Piner had a bye on Oct. 25, but if this Friday’s game couldn’t be made up, the league title would have been decided (in Piner’s favor) by a points system, not on the field.