The heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring and air quality tumbling this weekend caused a few school districts to play it safe: They canceled varsity football games.
But most merely pushed back kickoff times Friday to 8 p.m. or later and in many cases canceled lower-level games that would have been played when temperatures were at their highest.
Was it a good call to play?
I wondered about that Friday afternoon, when the air was thick and the thermometer went well beyond 100 degrees.
But it didn’t seem too bad after sunset, at least in Mountain View, where I covered St. Francis’ victory over Palma.
“We just tried to hydrate them, get them off their feet and stay out of the sun,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. “We did OK with it. It wasn’t bad for us. It was worse for the freshmen and the J.V. games.”
Palma and St. Francis played lower-level games Friday but made sure to take precautions. Three popup tents were placed on each sideline and extra bags of ice and lots of fluids were available. The teams also had longer breaks between quarters.
Elsewhere, Bellarmine College Prep’s junior varsity game against Clovis North was canceled, and the varsity teams played a half-hour later than scheduled.
“By the time we kicked off at 7:30, it was not bad at all,” said Bellarmine coach Mike Janda, whose team rallied in the fourth quarter to win 16-13 at San Jose City College. “We didn’t notice any effects. No cramping on either side. Everybody did a great job hydrating. It was fine. We had a little breeze, and it made it very bearable.”
Half Moon Bay suited up just 23 players for its road game at Palo Alto and returned to the coast with a 48-7 victory.
“We pushed back the start time and had an athletic trainer who loaded up on the Gatorade and the Pedialyte,” HMB coach Keith Holden said. “We came over prepared, and it wasn’t really necessary. I told our kids to hydrate, start on Wednesday, not on Friday.”
Earlier, some East Bay school districts opted to keep their teams off the field.
Dublin called off its home game against Milpitas, and Dougherty Valley canceled its home game against Berkeley. Both decisions were made at the district level and included other sports as well.
Later, James Logan’s home game against Pittsburg was scrapped.
Elizabeth Graswich, a San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokeswoman, said in a statement on Dougherty Valley’s website that the cancellations in her district were made “due to the extreme heat conditions and poor air quality” and to “ensure the safety of our students, coaches, parents and community supporters.”
Dublin athletic director Peter Scarpelli echoed that statement.
“We’re also taking into consideration people in the stands,” he said. “Player safety is first and foremost, and we were certainly going to take the precautions necessary for that. But what we can’t control always is the people coming through the gate, if they’ve hydrated. Those are adults, but it’s still a concern.
“We decided to suspend the JV game and then as the day wore on (Thursday) and more conversations took place at the district level, they felt that cancelling the varsity game was the next step.”
Campolindo coach Kevin Macy, whose team beat St. Ignatius on Friday, said the conditions were worse at Marin Catholic a week earlier than they were Friday night.
“It was beautiful night at Campolindo,” Macy told the Bay Area News Group’s Mike Lefkow. “Every district had to make its own choices. But a lot of football got stolen away.”
Saturday, Sacred Heart Prep beat Sobrato 42-6 in a game called off by the officials before end of third quarter because of excessive heat.
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