What began as 18 local football teams competing in the North Coast Section playoffs could be whittled to three — or even none — on Wednesday when the governing body for high school athletics meets to decide how to handle the fire-interrupted fall sports championships.
The NCS executive committee is meeting via teleconference at 9 a.m. Wednesday to try to craft a solution. Or, more ominously, “consider the options of non-completion of the NCS championships in the fall sports of water polo, football and team tennis.”
After the first round of games on Nov. 2-3, eight local schools remain in the running for section football titles and possible advancement to the California Interscholastic Federation state championships.
But since last week, the deadly Camp fire in Butte County had caused such unhealthy air quality throughout the North Coast that it has forced school closures and the postponement of dozens of football, water polo, tennis and cross country postseason events. The Woolsey fire in Southern California has delayed several games there.
The delays threaten to push the fall season beyond state deadlines and into the already-starting winter sports seasons. Nine local basketball games scheduled for Tuesday night have been canceled.
Cross country championships set for this weekend were still on as of Tuesday.
“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 CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during a time where schedules need to be fluid due to unfortunate events beyond our control.”
At Wednesday's meeting, the committee will discuss whether any not-yet-completed NCS championship tournament should be canceled, according to the meeting agenda.
For Nor-Cal championship qualifiers, the committee will consider one of three proposals if section tournaments are canceled:
The highest-seeded team would become the qualifier.
The section would not send a qualifier.
The section would flip a coin to determine a qualifier.
Three local schools won top football seeds in the NCS seeding meeting last month: Rancho Cotate in Division 2, Cardinal Newman in Division 3 and Kelseyville in Division 5. Kelseyville and Newman had byes in the first round, which means they essentially could be awarded NorCal qualifiers without playing a postseason game. Rancho beat Casa Grande in its first-round game.
Rancho Cotate coach Gehrig Hotaling wants to just get it going, whatever the committee decides.
“At this point, nothing good can happen from letting your mind wander into all the different possibilities,” he said. “We’re just going to do what the NCS tells us to do.”
Not sending a NorCal qualifier or flipping a coin to decide would be disappointing, he said.
“I just hope they make a thoughtful, logical decision, a practical decision considering the circumstances,” he said. “Obviously, we’d like to settle it on the field.”
Representatives from around the NCS area will participate in the teleconference, including those from Sonoma, Lake, Marin and Humboldt Counties.
Committee member and Upper Lake High School athletic director Mike Smith suspects the committee will give No. 1 seeds the qualifiers.
(These schedules are subject to change or cancellation due to poor air quality from wildfires around the state)
(seeds in parentheses)
(8) American Canyon at (1) Rancho Cotate, 7 p.m.
(6) Ukiah at (3) Campolindo, 7 p.m.
(8) Encinal at (1) Cardinal Newman, 7 p.m.
(8) Cloverdale at (1) Kelseyville, 7 p.m.
(7) St. Helena at (2) Salesian College Prep, 1 p.m.
(4) Tomales at (1) Branson, 1 p.m.
CIF State Championship
Victoria Club, Riverside
BOYS WATER POLO
(4) Piedmont vs. (3) Cardinal Newman at Soda Aquatic Center, Moraga, 6 p.m.
(1) Anderson Valley vs. (2) Jewish Community, 2 p.m.
Division 3 Championship
(1) Technology vs. (4) St. Bernard’s at Rancho Cotate High School, 1 p.m.
BOYS, GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Hayward High School, Hayward, Nov. 17
CIF State Championship
Woodward Park, Fresno, Nov. 24