By Ray Hamill — As the uncertainty surrounding high school sports in California continues, and the public outcry for a return to competition builds momentum, only one thing is certain when it comes to prep football in the state.
We’re running out of time.
After last week’s updated guidelines from the North Coast Section, at this stage there appears to be four possible scenarios for the prep football season here.
All of this, of course, could change if Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials update their guidelines to allow all sports return to competition sooner than anticipated, like much of the rest of the country.
If they don’t, then it will all come down to how quickly we can move through the COVID tiers in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in the coming weeks.
Both counties would have to reach the orange or second least restricted tier in order to begin play.
Local health officials would also have to approve the return.
Here then are the four possible scenarios …
1 — We reach the orange tier by mid-March and play a three-game season
With the NCS announcing April 17 as the final day allowed for competition in football this school year, the league athletic directors are proposing a deadline of mid-March for a return to competition, which would be just enough time for the 10 mandatory days of preseason practice and three games per team.
It would certainly be better than nothing and place a huge emphasis on every game.
2 — We get cleared to play earlier and play up to a seven-game season
Depending on when the league is given the green light to play, additional games could be scheduled, up to as many as seven if we’re cleared by mid-February.
I’m not sure how likely that is at this stage, but it is certainly possible we could reach the orange tier by late February or early March.
3 — We cancel the season
This is the one thing we don’t want to see, but if the league is not cleared to play by the middle of March, it will have no choice.
The 2021 fall season is scheduled to kick off on Aug. 9, meaning competition in the spring will have to be completed by April 17 so as there is enough time between seasons.
4 — We push back the fall start date
Unlikely as this may seem, it remains a possibility that has already been addressed on some fronts, including a round table discussion on the Youth Sports Network Facebook page over the weekend.
It would allow games be played beyond April 17, which would allow the spring season to potentially start later than mid-March.