Smoky situation: Section may postpone this week's playoff games. Here's why.

James Burns

The Sac-Joaquin Section will rule Wednesday on whether to postpone this week’s playoff football games because of poor air quality caused by the deadly wildfire that has ravaged Northern California.

The announcement will come at noon, following a conference call among air quality boards from throughout the Sac-Joaquin Section region. The conference call will take place at 10:45 a.m., according to section Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard.

“We’re waiting and seeing as long as we can,” DeBoard said Tuesday afternoon, “but it doesn’t look very good.”

On Tuesday, the CIF State Office decided to push back the Northern California and CIF State championships due to the impact of the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in state history. Camp Fire has claimed 42 lives, scorched more than 117,000 acres and razed the town of Paradise. Smoke from the blaze has settled over Bay Area and Central Valley communities.

The Northern California regional bowls will be contested Dec. 7-8, with brackets released Monday, Dec. 2. The state bowls are slated for Dec. 14-15 at Cerritos College in downtown Norwalk and various home sites.

“We reviewed the schedules with the 10 CIF sections and came to a unanimous agreement that the best course of action is to cause as least disruption as possible for all those participating in our regional and state championship events,” CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake said in a press release. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during a time where schedules need to be fluid due to unfortunate events beyond our control.”

DeBoard said the state’s decision to push back the regional and state bowl calendar affords the Sac-Joaquin Section the option of postponing this week’s playoff games because of poor air quality.

On Tuesday, several programs in the southern half of the section were forced indoors because of the unhealthy air quality. For instance, Modesto Christian held its football practice in the gymnasium.

The section wants to issue a ruling Wednesday to avoid any last-second postponements. DeBoard said the section’s ruling will apply to all schools, regardless of the air quality index in their county.

“Whatever decision we make, it won’t be like last week when it was a game-time decision,” DeBoard said. “It was 2 o’clock on Friday and nobody was above 120, and then it got bad over the next couple of hours.”

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