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Northern Section approves both two-season, three-season sport formats for 2020-21

Schools must choose sports calendars by Sept. 25 so schedules can start to be crafted.

The Northern Section Board of Managers got the ball rolling on the return of high school sports Wednesday via Zoom meeting when it agreed to move forward with the proposed hybrid 3-season/2-season model for athletics. Additionally, a Nov. 1 deadline for schools to notify the section which calendar it preferred was moved to Sept. 25.

The new deadline allows the section to start slotting schools and leagues earlier and makes schedule-building easier for not only whole leagues, but ones where geography, weather and number of athletes would force splits of traditional rivals.

“We can start charting which leagues are whole and who needs to be combined with other leagues,” NSCIF Commissioner Liz Kyle said. “The section requires schools be placed in leagues and I was granted authority by the executive committee to ‘re-league’ this year based on preferences of schools.”

Schools must choose by Sept. 25 which sports they will participate in and for football, basketball and soccer, which season model. Only the two-season model allows teams to play for a state title. However, schools can mix and match models, much like ordering a la carte off a restaurant menu.

The two-season model aligns with the CIF State model, provides for slightly longer seasons and a chance to compete in regional state competition.

The three-season model breaks out football, soccer and basketball and doesn’t allow those teams to qualify for state postseason play.

Most Shasta County schools favor the three-season calendar, as it allows for less sport overlap as smaller schools often rely on multiple-sport athletes.

Of course, all the planning still hinges of the state Department of Health loosening the restrictions on youth sports. For traditional summer conditioning, the guidelines were limited to 10 players per group with other health and safety provisions.

“We really have to wait for them (Public Health) to lift the restrictions and send that power to the counties so they can decide what’s best (for their communities),” Kyle said.

She said the question of when that might happen has been asked as the state level with officials being told when the majority of schools are back to in-person learning, she said.

Kyle pointed to the fact that most fall programs begin workouts well before the start of classes as a flaw in that logic.

“We have asked (the state) to look at sections regionally and not treat the state as one unit,” she said. “We’re hoping to not have to wait for the whole state.”

Biggs football coach and principal Tyler Rutledge, who was involved in the Zoom meeting and vote, said moving up the commitment date was a great first step.

“The section has given us the opportunity to be flexible,” he said. “There’s got to be a lot of give and take, but every school I’ve worked with has been accommodating.

“I think we all want to see the kids play.”

But, he warned, the buffet style approach could lead to scheduling issues down the line.

“John Studer (Corning football coach) said to me that with every answer comes three new questions,” Rutledge said.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. Williams has coached various sports at the high school level over the past decade, most recently at Shasta High, and is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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