Some Valley high schools already forced to cancel football games

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action under the Friday night lights is coming to a pause for some players as more than a handful had to cancel their first week of games.

CIF Commisioner Ryan Tos is commending various school sites for keeping player safety a top priority.

"As long as they're getting most of their games in it shouldn't affect their rankings too much," he said.

Tos adds, "Whether it's COVID or air quality, I think that our schools have done an amazing job looking out for the health of our student athletes. I'd rather a school miss 10 or 20% of their season, instead of our whole section missing 100% of the season."

Selma High school reported one case of COVID on their football team, while Immanuel Schools is citing Injury and Illness as the reason for the cancelation. Yosemite and Fresno High are the latest to cancel.

Madera High School's Varsity football team did not meet practice requirements for a COVID case earlier in the school year.

Madera Unified Athletic Director Marty bitter says student athletes district-wide are tested every Monday for COVID -- prior to school so class isn't disrupted.

He says, "We're fortunate. We think we have a good plan in place now, at least as far as athletics goes, so that we can keep all of our teams practicing and intact."

Bitter adds he's reached out to athletic directors to periodically stop by weight rooms to make sure students are adhering to safety guidelines.

Bitter says, "If it's not one thing it's another, right? You're battling COVID and then we go through where it's 100 degrees outside."

Triple-Digit temperatures aren't impacting Friday's play, but air quality can. Visalia Unified canceled all home games.

Redwood High postponed their away game and El Diamante canceled theirs because of air quality.

As jarring satellite images show wildfire smoke blanketing California, the Valley Air District is working closely with school athletics, advising them of the deteriorating air quality.

Valley Air District's Cassandra Melching says, "PM 2.5 is really, really harmful and that comes from wood smoke, so that's currently what we're experiencing right now. If those numbers are elevated, then folks that are out there are going to feel tightening in the
chest, their eyes are going to burn, it's going to be difficult to breathe, it can aggravate asthma, bronchitis and just bring on a whole wealth of issues."

Both Immanuel and Madera high school have expressed their plans to fill their bye weeks to make up for this week's game.
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