High school football can begin in L.A. after COVID-19 threshold met – Daily News

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Better late than never. High school football is back.

The California Department of Public Health released the updated COVID-19 numbers Tuesday afternoon, which revealed the adjusted case rate per 100,000 was 12.3 for Los Angeles County. The guidance given by state officials on Friday permits outdoor youth competition if a county’s rate reaches 14 or lower.

Orange County’s case rate is 11.9.

All that’s left is for respective county health departments to align themselves with the state’s guidance, and it’s game on.

This allows all outdoor sports to begin practice, pending school and district rules, and eventually compete. However, the same guidance says schools can only compete against schools in the same or neighboring counties.

“I was hopeful the rate would be at 14 (or lower),” Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse said. “Now, I think it’s realistic to play six games.”

Ellinghouse will put that realism into motion Tuesday afternoon. The Trailblazers will be out on the field starting day one of 10 needed practices in helmets – and eventually pads on Friday – before a game can be played, a mandate from the CIF Southern Section.

In a perfect world, Sierra Canyon’s 10 days of practice would end on Friday, March 5, and would make them eligible for a scrimmage March 6. Ellinghouse already confirmed that Sierra Canyon will travel to play St. John Bosco in Bellflower on March 12. The calendar could allow six total games to be played before the Southern Section’s season end date of April 17.

Paraclete football coach Dean Herrington shares the same sense of urgency. He’s looking to scrimmage March 6.

“I’m ecstatic for the kids,” Herrington said. “Can’t wait to get back out on the field.”

The official date outdoor competition can begin is Friday, Feb. 26, which restricts football practice to be with full pads. Until then, practice will be with helmets.

“I had two practice plans ready for Tuesday,” Chaminade coach Ed Croson said when waiting for the latest COVID-19 numbers.

It’s not as easy for public schools that have to wait on guidance from its respective district on what is permitted, or not permitted. Some wait is longer than others.

Calabasas High, which is in the Las Virgenes Unified School District, could be one of the first public schools in action due to superintendent Dr. Dan Stepenosky’s love for athletics.

“We need sports back…our kids have been isolated, away from other contact for 10 months,” Stepenosky said in late January. “That is having a very serious impact on their social and emotional health.”

Calabasas athletic director Jon Palarz says there’s a meeting with the superintendent Tuesday afternoon to discuss athletics.

“I believe we’re ready to go, and moving forward as quickly as possible. I expect our football team will be practicing in pads on Friday,” Palarz said.

Ventura County, a neighboring county that includes schools like Westlake, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks High – all in the Daily News coverage area for high school sports – will have to wait one more week to begin practice. The adjusted rate for the county Tuesday was 16.9, above the 14 needed to begin.

However, the number dropped from last week’s 26.2 – it’s trending in the right direction.

Westlake football coach Tim Kirksey sees the one-week delay as a good thing.

“Our district needed more time anyway, so us not getting (the number) this week gives everyone more time to be more prepared going into next week,” Kirksey said. “I’m excited to feel like this thing is real.”

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