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Eagle County high schools to play football this fall

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
It's official. Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain opted into fall football on Friday afternoon. Official practice starts Thursday and games begin Oct. 8-10.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

Football is back in Eagle County.

Vail Christian opted in for football on Thursday. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley joined the Saints on Friday, via a statement issued by Eagle County Schools.

“The Eagle County School District announced today that they are choosing to play fall football during the A season this fall. This district has notified CHSAA, and CHSAA has indicated they will assist in the making of schedules for teams who opt-in on Monday, September 21, 2020,” the statement said.

Though Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley have been holding voluntary workouts, official practices will start Thursday and the seven-game slate begins Oct. 8-10.

“I am a football mom and I have had to put my football-mom self away during this whole process and focus on what’s good for the kids,” Battle Mountain athletic director Gentry Nixon said. “I’m excited to see the kids play.”

In fairness, Tom LaFramboise, Eagle Valley’s athletic director, is very much a football dad to his sons and has also been a football coach both in Gypsum as well as at Norwood. He’s pumped.

“Absolutely,” he said, while watching Eagle Valley softball play on Friday. “I’m thrilled for the kids, the families and the coaches.”

Staying healthy

As the situation progressed this week, schools had to consider playing football in the age of COVID-19. CHSAA altered variances to allow 50 people maximum on the sidelines. Players and coaches must be masked when not actively participating in the games.

“I think with the safety precautions CHSAA has implemented, it’s as safe as it can be,” LaFramboise said. “I’ll be honest. No one knows the outcome. You worry now. You would worry if you play in March.”

Nixon believes that football teams will toe the line with safety, knowing that their seasons depend upon it.

“I’m confident our coaches will follow the protocols,” Nixon said. “They all understand how fragile this is. One slip-up and they can lose everything.”

Toward that end, both athletic directors do not have plans yet for spectators — who gets in, how many people will be able to attend and who can sit together, etc. The Devils, Huskies and Saints, for that matter, don’t have schedules yet, much less know when home games are.

Both LaFramboise and Nixon said the first priority was working with public-health officials to get the green light for the season and that they will address the fan situation during the next three weeks.

Tear up your schedule(s)

Yet another tricky aspect of 2020 high school football is setting a schedule. The Devils, Huskies and Saints have already built a 10-game and then seven-contest slates.

Rip up both of those. The schedule will still be seven games — the “6+1” plan, meaning six regular-season games plus the first round of the playoffs or a seventh game against another team not qualified for the postseason.

The Devils, Huskies and Saints must first figure out their league schedules, if they exist. In the 3A Slope, Palisade said Wednesday that it would play. Glenwood Springs has chosen the spring. Steamboat Springs and Summit have yet to decide about fall or spring. So the 3A Slope is looking a little skimpy right now.

What’s more is that the obvious choices for geographically convenient nonconference play like Rifle, Basalt, Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge have all elected to play spring ball. (Aspen has yet to decide.)

So Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain will obviously play each other and Palisade seems to be an obvious choice, but that leaves four open dates and likely a fifth for the plus-one spot.

For Vail Christian, in theory, its six games in the “6+1” would all be within the Northwest League. But (and there’s always a but these days) only Hayden and Rangely have committed to the fall as of press time. Soroco, West Grand, Plateau Valley have until Monday to declare their intentions.

So the local schools’ schedules likely won’t come into focus until after everyone has decided on fall or spring.

Soccer and volleyball

The sports are staying in Season C. Soccer and volleyball will have a March 4 start date. Both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley strenuously objected to those sports not being moved back to their traditional fall spots.

LaFramboise called the situation “a travesty.”

Nixon added, “I am incredibly disappointed that we weren’t given the opportunity to play volleyball and soccer. I am disappointed that the governor’s office have not approved those variances and not let all fall sports play.”


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