Dozens of games initially scheduled for this week have been canceled or postponed until further notice as Napa County and its neighbors continue to realize the effects of wildfires ripping through the region.
Most of the cancellations have coincided with announcements from local school districts and colleges electing to keep their doors closed through early next week in some cases, with power still out in many areas and smoke-filled air blanketing the Bay Area.
St. Helena and Calistoga, the two Napa County high schools closest to the devastating Tubbs Fire, will also remain closed like their southern counterparts. Evacuations began in Calistoga early Wednesday morning, indicating it may be much longer before any semblance of a normal day returns.
The Wildcats were scheduled to play Stuart Hall of San Francisco in their final North Central League III South football game on Saturday, but coach Mike Ervin confirmed Tuesday night that it was canceled, ending their season 5-2 overall and 1-2 in league.
Requests seeking confirmation on the status of Calistoga’s volleyball and soccer teams went unanswered at print deadline.
St. Helena High got permission from the North Coast Section to tentatively move Friday’s non-league football action at Winters to Monday night. The JV game was called off, but varsity will play at 6 p.m.
Of course, that could all change, especially with a road trip to Willits for a North Central League I game scheduled four days later.
“Who knows what Monday is going to look like, but that’s just a tentative day we picked out with Winters,” said SHHS athletic director Tom Hoppe Wednesday morning.
He is optimistic they will be able to schedule make-up games for the volleyball and soccer teams, which were supposed to travel to Cloverdale Tuesday and host Lower Lake Thursday.
In an email Tuesday, Napa Valley Unified School District spokesperson Elizabeth Emmett said “all athletics, dances, clubs and all other school activities are canceled, including any homecoming festivities.”
She clarified that also included this week’s slate of football games, with American Canyon, Napa and Vintage originally scheduled to play highly anticipated league games. Napa High was set to face Rodriguez in its homecoming game Friday prior to Saturday night’s dance. Vintage was going to travel to Vacaville, and Vanden was scheduled to visit American Canyon in a key Solano County Athletic Conference matchup.
NVUSD athletic director Jill Stewart said she doesn’t expect those football games to be rescheduled, and each program will most likely have to settle with the ramifications of a nine-game schedule.
According to CIF rules, no football team can play more than two games in an eight-day span. The only option would be a Monday-Saturday scenario next week, but the logistics are discouraging given a host of factors, including the lack of time to prepare and the player safety that might be compromised by two short weeks.
Before the district made its decision, American Canyon head coach Larry Singer said he was texting Vanden coach Sean Murphy and trying to figure out different scenarios to make the game happen.
This week’s matchup comes with a number of intersecting storylines for the Wolves, who have won three straight games after starting the year 0-3. Vanden, one of the teams they have shared the SCAC title with the past two seasons, was also the only team to get the better of them in league play last year, hitting a field goal as time expired to steal a 24-21 victory.
Singer was admittedly disappointed, but he also felt sympathy for his players, who have been in limbo all week.
“People are losing their homes, people are being displaced. But I think the one thing sports does is – especially for kids – is it gives them a sense of normalcy,” he said. “It gives them a sense of, ‘OK, this is all I have to do right now. This is what I can do. I can just enjoy this and have a good time. I have a routine. We have a schedule.’
“For some kids, that’s huge because they don’t have that at home. They don’t have that in their everyday life … so no, I get it. People are losing their homes. One of our players – his mom – her home is over in Santa Rosa and the fire was like a block away from her house. Literally the houses behind her the next street over were burned down to the ground and hers was saved. So that really puts things in perspective for us as a team. But at the same time (structure from sports is) what these kids need.”
In an email to the Justin-Siena community, classes as well as “athletic practices and games” were canceled for the remainder of the week, citing the lack of electricity on campus and poor air quality. The Braves were slated to host Redwood in football Friday night.
It was unclear whether those games would be rescheduled, either, but Justin-Siena athletic director George Nessman said “make up dates when possible will be determined as we proceed.”
Aside from football, the remaining sports affected are volleyball, water polo, cross country and, in St. Helena and Calistoga, soccer.