• Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Prevention & Cures

Well-Being.Medical Advances Mental Health. Longevity. Prevention & Cures.

High school football can begin in Orange County after clearing COVID-19 threshold – OCRegister

By

Feb 24, 2021

It didn’t look very promising.

For a long time Nick Fryhoff doubted that he would have a senior year of football with his Foothill High School teammates. COVID-19 shut down high school sports last March and showed no signs of letting up throughout the fall and winter.

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through tackling drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A receiver keeps his eyes on the ball as football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A receiver goes up for a pass as football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A quarterback throws a pass as football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through tackling drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A receiver goes up for a pass as football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Football players at Foothill High School in Tustin go through drills in their first real practice on Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2021. They are among the Orange County football teams practicing now that the COVID-19 rates dropped to a level that such activity is allowed. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“There was a point a couple of months ago when COVID cases were steadily rising,” said Fryhoff, an all-league defensive end last season. “My dad and I were talking about it, and it looked like it wasn’t going to happen.”

But everything changed in just a few days. The California Department of Public Health made a significant revision Friday, Feb. 19 to its guidelines for youth sports, and on Tuesday the case rate for COVID-19 in Orange County dipped to 11.9 per 100,000, below the new threshold of 14 set last week by the CDPH.

That development gave football, along with water polo and several other sports, the green light to begin their seasons.

After a long delay, football teams in Orange County could play their first games of the season as early as March 11.

The new CDPH guidelines don’t go into effect until Friday, but football teams were allowed to have conditioning workouts Tuesday. Many teams like Foothill went at it right away. And Fryoff is already thinking about Foothill’s first game on March 12 against neighborhood rival Tustin.

“Oh, man,” Fryoff said. “Last night we heard that we’d be playing Tustin in the first week, and that, along with the news today, it’s just amazing.”

There was renewed optimism among football coaches and players after the CDPH announcement Friday. The season was suddenly within reach, as Orange County’s case rate had been dropping steadily, from 20.7 early last week, to 16 on Friday. Then came the news Tuesday that O.C. was at 11.9.

Like so many high school athletes, Servite quarterback Noah Fifita had been tracking the COVID-19 data.

“I’ve been on social media all day,” said Fifita, a junior who was selected to CalHiSports.com’s 2019 All-California Sophomores team. “And when I saw that Orange County was under the 14, that made my day.”

Orange County football teams, like all CIF-SS teams, must have 14 days of practice before they can play their first game. They need 10 days of practice before they can scrimmage against another team.

The first three days must be “conditioning” practices during which equipment is limited to helmets and cleats. After three days, teams can practice in full pads.

Boys and girls water polo, which, like football, was supposed to start their seasons several months ago, can start playing games by the end of this week.

Foothill boys water polo coach Jim Brumm was not certain when his team, the defending CIF-SS Division 2 champion, would play its first contest.

“I wish we were playing tomorrow,” Brumm said. “But hopefully we can play sometime early next week, like Tuesday or Wednesday.”

It’s been a long wait for water polo athletes, too.

“We’ve been training since June,” Brumm said. “Today is going to be our first day of scrimmaging and guarding each other, but our guys have been in the water a long time.”

Private schools and school districts still have to give their approval before football and water polo teams can begin playing games. Those governing bodies have to align themselves with the state’s new guidance.

The Orange County Health Care Agency gave its approval Tuesday afternoon.

Football and water polo teams also have to meet the state’s condition — weekly COVID-19 testing for players and coaches — for allowing outdoor sports from the purple and red tiers to play once a county reaches a case rate of 14/100K. Testing can stop once a county’s case rate falls below 7/100k.

The state said it will pay for the testing, if requested, but the teams are responsible for coming up with a testing plan. Test results must be available within 24 hours of competition.

“That’s do-able in football, with only one game a week,” said Canyon High athletic director Nate Harrison. “But with water polo, we’re talking conceivably about two or three games a week. Hopefully we’ll get to that (sub-7) rate next week and we won’t have to worry about it.”

Until Tuesday, cross country had been the only Season 1 sport that had been cleared have competitions this school year. Girls tennis, a Season 2 sport, began its season Monday, and boys tennis begins Monday, March 1.

But those are all non-contact sports. The CDPH’s revised guidelines Friday and the county stats update Tuesday were especially significant for contact outdoor sports, including boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball and lacrosse. Those sports can now begin their seasons in the coming weeks.

The situation is not favorable, though, for traditionally indoor sports — basketball, volleyball and wrestling. Those sports will not be eligible to begin their seasons until Orange County is in the hardest-to-reach tier, yellow, unless they decide to compete outdoors this year.

The chance to play was what so many county high school athletes had waited for, and with Tuesday’s news that chance arrived at long last.

“My teammates and I have been working so hard for, what, nine months now?” Fryhoff said. “And now we finally have an opportunity for a season? We’re all so pumped for this.”

 

Loading ....

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *