Talk about going the extra mile!
Faced with the prospect of having their season-opening game cancelled due to air quality issues, the Douglas and Reno high school football teams will travel east Friday and play in Winnemucca instead.
The nonconference game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff at Lowry High School. The Tigers and Huskies were originally scheduled to play at Reno High’s Foster Field.
With most of western Nevada socked in with smoke from the Rim fire burning near Yosemite in California, school officials looked to the north, west and east for alternate solutions Thursday afternoon.
“These kids have been preparing for this since November and we as a program will do whatever it takes to make sure they have that opportunity,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “So we’re going to drive three-and-half hours to give them that chance to play.”
Among the alternate options were to play Saturday in California at either Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley or at Lassen High School in Susanville. Tonight’s McQueen-Nevada Union game, originally scheduled for Reno, has been moved to Grass Valley.
Monfiltteo noted that Lowry appeared to be the best option for Douglas and Reno to consider.
“We’re eternally grateful to Lowry for being gracious enough to extend the use of their facility to us,” Monfiletto said.
“When we talked to their administrators, it was like, ‘Whatever you guys need, we’d be glad to help you,” added Douglas Athletic Director Jeff Evans.
Meanwhile, the Douglas Class Races cross country meet at Lampe Park was called off due to air quality conditions. The meet could be rescheduled in mid-October, according to Evans.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association cancelled all prep sports activities in Northern Nevada areas affected by smoke, according to an email sent out Thursday afternoon. The email stated cancellations were called for all activities in Douglas, Carson City, Washoe, Lyon, Storey and Churchill counties in Nevada, as well as Coleville and South Tahoe on the California side.
Eddie Bonine, director of the NIAA, spoke for about 25 minutes Wednesday to update the media about smoke conditions. Bonine pointed out the NIAA has to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players, coaches, officials, game workers and spectators.
“In conversations with local and state officials, the present level of poor air quality may be with us for a period of time,” said Bonine. “County-to-county, day-to-day and hour-to-hour the (air quality index) may vary and can change as the wind gusts so it makes it difficult to be positive at this point. We’re going one day at a time. This is a major concern we all should share. We’re in uncharted water. The people I work for haven’t seen stuff like this before.”
Bonine said the NIAA put a minimum standard air quality index chart on its website.
If football games are canceled and aren’t made up later in the season, schools stand to lose some significant money, a fact not lost on the NIAA.
“This is not a decision made lightly,” said Donnie Nelson, NIAA assistant commissioner. “It has financial implications for a great many people. Football only has so many home games, so you are losing gate and snack bar receipts.”
Nelson pointed out this weekend’s games are Hall of Fame events where gate proceeds are turned over by the school to the NIAA, which helps the organization fund its Hall of Fame activities. To lose gate proceeds from approximately 15 games is significant.
Editor’s note: Darrell Moody of the Nevada Appeal and Steve Puterski of the Lahontan Valley News contributed to this report