Friday, August 07, 2020

THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Football murmurs, and a spring sports do-over for state

| July 16, 2020 1:15 AM

Talk that the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is considering shuffling some of its seasons around in the 2020-21 school year doesn’t look like it’s going to affect the Idaho High School Activities Association’s plans to return to athletics — hopefully — this fall.

One of the ideas being bounced around had Washington moving sports that required more contact — like football — to the spring, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WIAA announced last week it was pushing back the start of practice for its fall sports season to early September. That move already eliminated the first two weeks of games for Greater Spokane League teams, most of which were scheduled with North Idaho squads.

And it’s possible the start of the season could be pushed back even further, erasing even more games vs. Idaho foes.

And if Washington indeed does something radical and tries to play football in the spring of 2021, Idaho would have to follow suit in order to have any games against Washington foes. Several North Idaho teams have more games scheduled with GSL and/or other Washington schools later in the season, that are still on — at least for now.

Ty Jones, executive director of the IHSAA, said his group is aware of what may or may not be happening in Washington this coming school year.

“I’ve heard that Washington was looking at different things and we have talked about them,” Jones said, “but for now (we) have decided to remain with our traditional sports seasons.”

The IHSAA is expected to announce next week its plan for high school sports to return in the fall. As of now, the first day of fall sports practices hasn’t changed from its originally scheduled date of Aug. 10.

THOSE WHO hoped to play host to Idaho state tournaments this past spring, but didn’t get to because all the state tourneys were canceled due to COVID-19, are getting a do-over in 2021.

That’s good news for fans of high school golf in North Idaho, and bad news for fans of high school softball around here.

The IHSAA board of control voted in June that those scheduled to host spring sports competitions this year will get another chance in 2021.

“Our board felt that because the sites that were selected for this year didn’t get to host this spring, they deserved the right to host next spring,” Jones said. “It’s also an economic boost for those areas. We just moved everything back a year.”

So state golf in 2020-21 will be at the same sites it was supposed to be in May — 5As at Avondale, 4As at The Links, 3As at The Highlands and 2As at Circling Raven.

The IHSAA has a rolling five-year calendar of state tourney sites. Some sports are always in the same locations, but others — including volleyball, softball, soccer and golf — rotate around the state.

Since North Idaho doesn’t get to host some of the bigger sports, like basketball and wrestling, we get state volleyball and softball every other year as a tradeoff of sorts.

2021 was supposed to be North Idaho’s turn for state softball. But instead, the tourneys will be held in the Boise area — 5As at Mountain View High in Meridian, 4As at Skyview Park in Nampa, 3As at Timberline High in Boise, and 2As at Skyview Park.

That means the next time a North Idaho school might need to place a call for a field burner — er, that means the next time North Idaho will host state softball — is in 2022.

The 2019 state softball tourneys were plagued by rain. Games were shortened, and double-elimination tourneys became single-elimination affairs. Post Falls High officials called in a flame-shooting tractor to help dry out a muddy infield so they could get a Saturday afternoon game in.

In 2022, the state 5A softball tourney is scheduled to be hosted by Coeur d’Alene High, with the 4As at Post Falls High.

3A state softball isn’t scheduled to be back until 2024, hosted by Kellogg High, but likely played somewhere in Coeur d’Alene.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached via email at Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.