Fall high school football may be back on the table
This is moving quickly
Upon further review, we might yet have a high school football season in the fall.
Colorado High School Activities Association Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green sent out an email to its member schools on Monday, saying that Gov. Jared Polis and the organization were, “reconsider(ing) the 2020-2021 football season as previously approved by (Polis’) office.”
Blanford-Green continued to write, “The Governor, his team and I will be meeting this week with a subsequent meeting scheduled with the CHSAA Board of Directors. My goal is to provide the membership with an update on or before 9/10 (Thursday).”
Those directors were scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 6 p.m., according to multiple sources.
Meanwhile, Polis spoke out on high school football on Tuesday, according to The Denver Post, saying, “We want to work with (CHSAA). If their board moves forward and wants to propose a fall season for CHSAA football, we would be thrilled to work with them to make that happen for the districts that are ready to go.”
According to a separate email obtained by the Vail Daily, “This is for Football only. No other sports. It appears that the recommendation will be to approve a Fall season of football with the ability for schools or to make a choice to have the ability to participate in Season C.”
As indicated, there is no talk yet of moving Season C sports like soccer or volleyball to the fall, and school districts would make their decisions on whether to play football in the fall or the spring, likely depending on local coronavirus conditions.
Were the governor and CHSAA to give the go-ahead to fall football, schools that wish to play in the fall would be allowed voluntary practices until the new official start day of Sept. 21. According to the newest plan, competition begins Oct. 1, using the seven-game schedule already worked up for Season C.
Among athletic directors and football coaches from Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Vail Christian, the general consensus is one of hope and excitement with a healthy dose of skepticism.
“Our players are ready to go, if it’s Oct. 1 or March 4 (the proposed first date of games in Season C),” Devils coach Gabe Brown said. “Eagle Valley is ready to go.”
Brown added that seeing states like Michigan and Louisiana, whose CHSAA counterparts reversed their decisions on no fall football, along with how regular fall football in neighboring Utah and Kansas has been going, may be behind the possibility of a return to fall football in the Centennial State.
For those who know Battle Mountain football coach Jim Schuppler, well, he’s ready to play football anytime or anywhere.
“I am into getting a season as soon as we can,” he said. “I believe as far as our school’s vote, we’ll be ready to go next week if (Polis and CHSAA) say next week.”
Battle Mountain athletic director Gentry Nixon backed that up, saying, “I’m excited about any opportunity our kids have to play. I miss football. I’m not going to lie. I’d just like to see the conversation more equitable about all fall sports, not just football.”
Nixon brings up the appropriate question that if it’s safe to play football, what about traditional fall sports like boys’ soccer and volleyball also being moved back from the spring?
Again, politics make for strange bedfellows as rivals Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain are both on the same page.
“We’re governed by CHSAA and we’ll do what they say,” Eagle Valley athletic director Tom LaFramboise said. “We’ll be ready to go as much as is possible to go on short notice, as much as I dislike the emotional rollercoaster they’re putting our kids and our families through. On top of that, we need to be looking at soccer and volleyball and dance. Our dance team’s season rotates around football. There are some weird decisions facing us that you have to question.”
Will it happen?
Making predictions during the Era of COVID-19 is a dangerous practice. The NBA and NHL are conducting their postseasons in September in bubbles across the United States and Canada, while the Labor Day primetime NCAA football game, normally a showcase of the sport’s powers, was BYU beating Navy, 55-3.
CHSAA traditionally issues an edict about high school sports and it usually is set in stone. That CHSAA is even reconsidering its pronouncement is unprecedented, a sign that, perhaps, it is on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from not only moving football to the spring, but also canceling spring sports earlier this year.
“I think there’s a very big chance that (football) will happen. We’ll find out soon enough,” La Framboise said. “I was as dumbfounded as anyone (Monday) when I got the email. It goes back to my worries. These guys have already had the carpet pulled out from underneath them (by moving football to the spring). Maybe they play; maybe they don’t. I don’t like this playing with people’s emotions like that.”
“Like I said, before I didn’t think there was a chance. After (Tuesday) with the release Polis put out, I think there’s a real chance with our (COVID-19) numbers going down,” Schuppler said. “I’m just waiting for confirmation one way or another.”
Vail Christian’s Tim Pierson wears several hats in his role at the school, including being both the athletic director and football coach. While he said that the Saints would be open to fall football, at the same time, he, like everyone else, is following along with the developments.
“I don’t know. This is moving so fast,” he said.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.