Schools cancel football, volleyball season

Jermaine Johnson II

East Sequoia League along with several other schools officially cancel football and volleyball seasons

TULARE COUNTY – Athletes around the county have long awaited a return for fall sports, but the anticipation is finally over for some. The East Sequoia League announced last week that they will be canceling their football and volleyball seasons because Tulare County did not move into the orange tier by Monday, Feb. 8.

The affected Tulare County high schools include Lindsay, Woodlake, Strathmore, and Granite Hills. The Porterville Unified School District has already canceled football, volleyball and water polo. Tulare Union, Tulare Western, and Mission Oak has also decided to cancel volleyball and water polo for this year. They will continue reevaluating for football plus other sports over the next few weeks.

Farmersville High School reached out to The Sun-Gazette after the article was published stating that they’ve pushed their decision date back to Feb. 24 for volleyball and football. If they decide to move forward with a season for those sports, they will likely fill their schedule with teams that have a bye week or with other teams in the area that have not officially cancelled their seasons.

The canceling of those sports seasons seemed inevitable. Other schools/leagues have yet to make an official announcement, but time is winding down. According to guidance from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) central section, Tulare County would have to reach the orange tier no later than Feb. 22 for the volleyball and water polo seasons to happen, and by March 26 for football. That seems like a long shot as the county is currently stuck in the purple tier with a seven-day average of over 40 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. In order to progress to the orange tier, the county would have to drastically improve to between 1.0 to 3.9 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

All hope is not lost as those athletes can now turn their focus to other sports that are likely to return. Cross country has already gotten the green light as Redwood will travel to Lemoore for a dual meet today, Feb. 10. Around the same time, Golden West will be hosting Mt. Whitney. However, the section, regional and state playoffs have been canceled for cross country due to current guidance from the California Department of Public Health which only allows competitions between bordering counties.

Swimming and diving, golf and tennis are able to start competitions next Monday, Feb. 15. Track and field can begin competitions on March 20. As of right now, playoff tournaments are still slated to happen for those sports. But things may change at any time depending on COVID-19 transmission and ICU availability projections in California. Athletes are also only able to participate in one cohort (team) during the same time or season.

If Tulare County progresses to the red tier, baseball and softball could begin competitions on March 20. The county would have to improve to between 4.0 to 7.0 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. The baseball and softball seasons would have to start no later than May 6. Soccer is a sport allowed in the orange tier and would have to start no later than April 15. Wrestling and basketball are sports allowed in the yellow tier and would have to start by April 26 and April 29, respectively. The county would have to improve to less than 1.0 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

This article was updated on Feb. 10 at 5:09 p.m.

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