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With high school football delayed again, what happens to De La Salle-St. John Bosco game?

It was supposed to be the grand reopening. De La Salle vs. St. John Bosco, kicking off a high school football season in California that has been delayed since the summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rematch of last season’s Open Division state championship game, won by Bosco nearly 12 months ago, was scheduled to unfold in Southern California on Jan. 8.

But with the announcement Tuesday that high school football practice in California won’t start until state health officials provide guidelines for youth sports, presumably after the first of the year, the De La Salle-Bosco game won’t happen in early January.

But will it happen at all?

De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said Tuesday that it could, noting that in conversations he’s had with coaches, including Bosco’s Jason Negro, everybody is on the same page.

“Let’s get games in for our kids,” Alumbaugh said. “We’re obviously not playing Bosco on Jan. 8. There is no way to dive into that type of thing. Obviously, dates are going to have to be shuffled.

“But everybody — kids most importantly — has had to be resilient, very flexible in their lives. We can be flexible. We’re just hoping for an opportunity.”

And by opportunity, Alumbaugh means games.

Not regional or state championship games, which the CIF said Tuesday will be removed from the fall calendar because it wants as many students as possible to play as long of a season as possible.

Alumbaugh just wants kids at his school and elsewhere to play, no matter the sport.

“This is not us going, ‘We’re trying to win a state championship,’” Alumbaugh said. “No, this is about trying to get kids out to do something that makes them happy. I know myself and a lot of other educators are a little frustrated. Whenever we mention it, it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a pandemic.’ We know it’s a pandemic. We understand. It’s not like we’re trying to spread COVID. We’re trying to do things safely that give our kids happiness.

“It’s not about winning games or anything like that. It’s about getting our kids out in as healthy a manner as we can, following all the guidelines that are given, and give them an opportunity to do something that they love. That’s something that, in a lot of ways, has been lost right now. In a lot of ways, the kids have been forgotten in this.”

Alumbaugh added, “The biggest thing from athletics is not about all of our kids getting college scholarships or winning state championships. It’s about they show up with their best friends every day and they socialize and they work together for a common goal and common good. That is invigorating for people.”

Just as many schools have, De La Salle has gone through conditioning workouts since June, following social-distancing protocols, going through countless temperature checks and separating into pods.

Couple those workouts with pre-pandemic weight training in January and February and Zoom video sessions in the spring, that’s a lot of commitment without playing a single game.

And as the announcement Tuesday underscored, there won’t be any games until the California Department of Public Health provides guidance.

What would Alumbaugh like to see in that guidance? He assumes the guidelines will be broken down into tiers, similar to the state’s reopening guidelines. 

“A return to competition can happen for specific sports at specific tiers,” Alumbaugh said. “Let’s be frank. Cross country and football are not the same sport. Golf can happen right now. Non-contact sports should be able to happen in a reasonable manner at higher tiers.

“We have to be told what we can do and how we’re supposed to do it. If we’re going to have a return to competition for all sports that are contact, the idea of social distancing goes away. You can’t social distance and tackle. You can’t social distance and block a shot in basketball. You can’t social distance in water polo during the game.”

In the meantime, it’s business as usual in the era of coronavirus. Conditioning in small groups and more questions than answers.


Source: Orange County Register

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