All of the North Coast Section playoff games that were originally set to take place on Friday and Saturday but were moved to Monday due to the poor air quality from the Camp fire in Butte County possibly could be rescheduled once again Monday morning.
According to the California Interscholastic Federation-North Coast Section official Twitter account, officials will continue to monitor the air quality and plan to announce any more changes to the football playoffs before noon Monday.
Also, the NCS Division 2 water polo championship rescheduled for Monday already has been postponed to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Soda Aquatics Center in Moraga. No. 3-seeded Cardinal Newman High School will compete in the title match against No. 4 Terra Linda. This matchup, the first time either team has made it to the championship game in their school’s histories, was originally supposed to take place Saturday before it was postponed to today.
Football games scheduled for Monday night, pending the NCS announcement in the morning, include the Division 2 quarterfinal clashes between No. 8 seed American Canyon and No. 1 Rancho Cotate as well as No. 6 Ukiah against No. 3 Campolindo. In the Division 3 playoffs, No. 1 Cardinal Newman is set to host No. 8 Encinal. In Division 5, No. 8 Cloverdale is scheduled to play at No. 1 Kelseyville, and No. 4 Fort Bragg is scheduled to host No. 5 Middletown.
Two games scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday have been postponed: an NCS Division 5 playoff game between No. 7 St. Helena and Salesian College Prep, and an 8-person game between No. 1 Branson and No. 4 Tomales. The dates for those games will be announced today.
With a win-or-go-home mentality already looming over players’ and coaches’ heads, the added stress of not knowing when the game will be held might create more anxiety, especially with all of this last-minute scrambling. But Rancho head coach Gehrig Hotaling is falling back on his experience from last year’s Tubbs fire that tore through Santa Rosa.
“I think it would be difficult had we not been in this situation last year. We actually played on Monday night last year, us and Newman were the only schools to do that,” Hotaling said. “We’ve been in this fire situation before, so we have similar circumstances and experiences to lean upon during this time, but for sure it’s a challenge.”
One of those challenges for all the teams waiting to continue their playoff runs is finding the time to keep their players focused and ready to compete without being able to hold practice outside.
“We’re going a little stir-crazy right now and just want to get after it,” Hotaling said. “We’ve been meeting, we had a couple team dinners and indoor walkthroughs, so just finding time to get together is the most important thing.”
After a terrific regular season that saw the Rancho team go 10-1 overall and 4-1 in the North Bay League-Oak Division, the Cougars have continued that success into the postseason, cruising by their first-round opponent, Casa Grande, in a 55-7 throttling. The Cougars’ only loss was to the NBL-Oak’s first-place Cardinal Newman.
But one of Rancho’s hardest tests this season will be facing American Canyon and its running back Eddie Byrdsong, who had four rushing touchdowns and ran for a career-high 356 yards, breaking his own school record, to lead the Wolves in a comeback victory late in their first-round win over Montgomery.