Unhealthy air prompts more schedule changes in sports

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After hazy, smoke-filled skies failed to clear across the North Bay, officials again scrambled to reschedule a long list of playoff games that had been slated to take place Monday night.

The decision to push almost all games to the weekend was made “based on existing and projected (air quality index) data,” according to officials from the North Coast Section who made the announcement Monday morning.

Many games already had been rescheduled from Friday and Saturday to Monday night but by Monday morning all but one had been moved again, and the North Bay League cross country meet rescheduled for today was canceled outright.

In football, the Division 5 contest between No. 4 Fort Bragg and No. 5 Middletown in Fort Bragg on Monday night was the only contest that remained on the calendar.

The Div. 5 game between No. 1 Kelseyville and No. 8 Cloverdale was originally slated to be played Monday night even after others had been postponed, but in an announcement issued at 12:30 p.m. Monday, officials said that game too would be been pushed off until Saturday.

Other football games moved to Saturday include Div. 2 contests between No. 1 Rancho Cotate and No. 8 American Canyon, and No. 6 Ukiah’s road game at No. 3 Campolindo; Div. 3 top seed Cardinal Newman’s home game against Encinal; the Div. 5 No. 7 seed St. Helena’s road game at No. 2 seed Salesian; and No. 4 Tomales’ road game against No. 1 seed Branson in the 8-person division.

It was unclear Monday how the repeated postponements would affect the rest of the postseason, which includes sections unaffected by wildfires or poor air quality.

According to the memo that went to school officials Monday morning, “Schools will be notified on the plan for future rounds at a later time.”

The latest round of delay is perhaps hardest on Cardinal Newman. The Cardinals have not played in a game since Oct. 26, when they beat Analy 48-6. The Cardinals’ competition drought is the longest of any Empire team.

Even last season, during which a significant portion of the Cardinal Newman campus burned and scores of students lost their homes in the deadly Tubbs Fire, coach Paul Cronin was able to schedule a game within two weeks of the blaze. At this point in the season this year, a similar move is impossible.

In cross country, North Bay League officials originally rescheduled both the Oak and Redwood division championships to run today at Spring Lake, but later Monday determined the meet would not be held at all. The event had to be canceled, not rescheduled, because the league received a waiver from the NCS office to hold the event no later than Tuesday.

The meet’s cancellation does not affect which teams and runners will compete at the NCS cross country championship scheduled for Saturday in Hayward. Those applications for entry were submitted Sunday and are not tied to the league compeitition in any way.

The NCS Division 2 water polo championship that had been rescheduled from Saturday to today was 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.

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