For the first time in more than a year there will be multiple high school football games going on in the Yuba-Sutter area starting tonight (Friday).
However, two of the five games scheduled were canceled due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The Paradise at East Nicolaus game was canceled because the Spartans had more than one positive case during this week’s testing protocols, Athletic Director Neil Stinson said.
Football teams are tested for COVID beginning Monday, with results announced later in the week, according to state guidelines.
“(It’s) reality and I think it’s something as an athletic director and coach that you fear,” Stinson said. “We knew it would be a possibility (but) you can only control what you can control. We’re hopeful that we will be able to play each remaining game.”
East Nicolaus is next scheduled to travel to Winters on April 2.
Stinson said football is the only sport competing at this moment within the program.
Also, Sutter’s home opener against Pleasant Valley, Chico, that was scheduled to take place Friday was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Sutter program.
“Due to a positive COVID test the varsity football game tomorrow night (Friday) has been canceled against PV. We have moved the JV game to 7 p.m.,” said Sutter Athletic Director Rick Giovannoni in a statement on Thursday. “We are verifying that this is an isolated case to our varsity football team but out of abundance of caution we are being proactive to mitigate the situation as the health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority.”
The games still scheduled to take place Friday are Wheatland at Gridley, Pierce at Williams and the 15th Mayor’s Cup between host River Valley and rival Yuba City.
River Valley Athletic Director Phil McCaulley said Thursday that there was a positive test within the junior varsity program, but the varsity game is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m.
McCaulley said in past years varsity and JV have practiced together, but this year there has been no contact between the programs.
“We have them completely separate,” he said.
All COVID protocols remain in place, McCaulley said, including limiting fan capacity to two tickets for each athlete and coach.
He said each family must sit together away from others with facial coverings worn the entire game.
There are no concession stands open during the game.
River Valley enters tonight’s game following a 26-18 win over River City last week in the first game in the mid valley area in nearly 17 months.
Yuba City was scheduled to play last week at home against Antelope, but the game was canceled due to a positive test result within the Antelope program.
Yuba City hasn’t played a game since its loss at Placer on Nov. 15, 2019.
The Honkers, coached by Aaron Gingery, have traditionally been extremely successful against their rival. YC leads the series against RV, 12-2, since 2006. The last RV win came in 2015 when the Falcons defeated the Honkers, 31-29.
To watch the Mayor’s Cup online, visit https://bit.ly/3st2gSs.
Wheatland at Gridley, 5:30/7:30 p.m.
Friday begins with JV at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity team. It will be the first game for both programs since the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Gridley Athletic Director Nathan Link said immediate family members from a single household are the only ones able to attend in person.
Link said due in part to the cancelations this week that it’s important that the community remains vigilant in its continued fight against COVID-19.
He said that while Gridley is not required to test athletes due to Butte County’s metrics being below seven cases per 100,000, administration is making it clear to its coaches to keep health and safety a priority during the reopening phase of athletics.
“It’s important to us (that) we’re doing everything to educate our coaches and do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus,” Link said.
Wheatland Athletic Director Dave Contreras said the team’s home opener next week has been moved up a day to April 1 to better accommodate its personnel.
The Pirates will host Oroville in a varsity-only contest beginning at 7 p.m Thursday, April 1.
Contreras said that four maximum household family members per athlete will be permitted to attend.
He said students are not allowed entry unless they’re a household member of a student-athlete participating and have a voucher as a member of the immediate family.
Household vouchers will be issued by the school, Contreras said.
Pierce at Williams, 5:30/7:30 p.m.
The 90th Rice Bowl remains a go, according to Pierce Athletic Director Michael Barber.
Barber said capacity is limited to two parent/guardian spectators per student athlete.
Pierce won 38-12 at home more than a year ago.
All games and times are subject to change due to COVID-19.