Practices for the season may start Feb. 1
January 21, 2021
COLFAX - Plans for a Feb. 1 football season start are underway at the high school.
The field was lined last week and a league coaches meeting took place, virtually. A game schedule has been set.
Athletes, coaches and fans now await the release of coronavirus-related numbers Jan. 25.
Under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines, "fall" sports could begin with practices Feb. 1 on a region-by-region basis.
Fall sports include football, volleyball and cross country.
Gov. Jay Inslee has lumped the state's 39 counties into eight regions. All are currently considered in "Phase 1" of reopening.
Whitman County is part of the East region, which also includes Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Spokane, Lincoln, Garfield and Asotin counties.
For sports to resume within a region, the region must be in Phase 2, according to the governor. To clear that hurdle, regions must show a 10% decrease in coronavirus cases and related hospital admissions, less than 90% intensive care unit occupancy and less than 10% positivity.
If the Jan. 25 numbers advance the East region to Phase 2, full practices may resume.
That means the Colfax Bulldogs, as well as other area football teams, can return to the gridiron.
The Bulldog's first game of the 2020-into-2021 season would be Saturday, Feb. 13 at Reardan.
"Everybody wants to beat up on the governor, the state Department of Health," head football Coach Mike Morgan said. "I don't have any criticisms. The matrix is not designed not to get us back to work... but to be safe, to do this in a safe manner.
"Yes, we are lumped in with Spokane. People smarter than me think that's a good idea for our part of the state. The WIAA has still given us a chance to get 5-6 games in."
Once practices begin, masks will be required. Indoor practices in the gym would have more controls.
"People go to work outside every day in this country in the winter," Morgan said.
If the region doesn't advance to Phase 2 by Feb. 1, the season could move back further.
"If we need another week or two, we can make this happen Feb. 15," Morgan said. "That's football coaches talking and a couple A.D.s (athletic directors)."
He's referring to a virtual meeting last Thursday among league coaches.
Pushing it later than mid-February may bring complications.
"None of the football coaches are interested in getting in the way of spring sports," Morgan said, referring to sports canceled in 2020 such as baseball, softball and track. "Eventually, if it doesn't work out for us, we'll just pull the plug and move on to spring sports."
The WIAA allows conditioning work for fall sports to begin this week.
On Tuesday, the football team went to the track after school for a running workout.
The School Board will meet Jan. 25 to vote on a plan to bring all junior high and high school students back to in-person learning Feb. 1, which would be another benchmark in place for sports to proceed.
For now, Morgan and his coaching staff prepare; they're readying for junior varsity and junior high school schedules, too.
"I tell my players this will be unlike any football season your fathers or grandfathers ever played," Morgan said. "Dress in layers, like my father used to tell me when we'd go hunting."
In last week's coaches meeting, Morgan made another suggestion, for each school to have maintenance department promptly paint lines on their field.
"Would you rather try to do it with two feet of snow on the ground," Morgan said.
The game schedule includes Friday night kickoffs and 1 p.m. Saturday matchups – due to a limited pool of referees, many of whom are in higher-risk age groups.
With Friday and Saturday games, less officials in the region can cover more games.
"The schedule is tentative," Morgan said. "Like everything else."
What are the players saying?
"They're kids, they don't care," Morgan said. "It's the adults that are gonna be cold."