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High Schools

City Postpones Football Games

Safety concerns and air quality issues because of fires are the determining factors for L.A. section. Teams are set to play Saturday or Monday.

October 31, 2003|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday that all football games scheduled for today have been postponed because of safety concerns over lack of practice time and air quality issues associated with the Southland's fires.

Games were rescheduled for Saturday or Monday. Some schools haven't held outdoor practices all week because of air quality. All schools were barred from practicing Tuesday because of a scheduled staff development day.

It will be the first postponement of City Section football games en masse since the entire athletic schedule was canceled for one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Among the rescheduled games, Carson will play host to Gardena at 2 p.m. Saturday in a critical Marine League game, and Granada Hills will play host to Woodland Hills Taft at 2:15 p.m. Monday in a West Valley League game.

Several coaches said they did not agree with the decision to postpone games, saying safety is not an issue for those programs that have continued to work out in gyms and weight rooms.

"We'd be fine playing" today, said Ed Croson, coach of defending City champion Lake Balboa Birmingham. "We'd play in the street tonight."

On Tuesday, Rancho Cucamonga played a Southern Section football game despite no outdoor practices for a week. Coach Chris Van Duin said his team was able to stay sharp with indoor practices.

"We were fine," he said. "I didn't see any ill effects. It's not ideal [practicing indoors], but we were able to stretch, do some conditioning, do some walk-throughs. I didn't have any safety issues."

Angelo Gasca, coach of unbeaten Venice, said he told his players to accept whatever decision is made.

"There are a lot of people going through worse things than having a game postponed," he said.

The City Section has requested football officials to contact the assigner of officials, Royce Cooley, to check on their availability.

In the Southern Section, several schools have moved games to Saturday and others to Monday. In the San Andreas League, which includes unbeaten Colton, all games have been postponed this week.

The Southern Section is waiting until at least Monday to decide to extend the Division V football season an extra week.

In a letter sent to schools in the Ivy, Mountain, San Andreas, Southwestern and Sunbelt leagues, Commissioner Jim Staunton urged officials to do everything possible to make up games in the remaining two weeks of the regular season. He also asked each league to devise procedures to determine playoff representatives if games cannot be made up.

Staunton said that he believes it is less likely that he will ask the state to temporarily relax rules that prohibit practices on Sundays as a way to help teams that need to make up games.

The San Diego Section, which canceled all practices and games in all sports this week, is leaving it up to individual leagues to decide whether games should be made up.

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Times staff writer Paul McLeod contributed to this report.

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