La Cañada Forfeits After Canceling Game Against South Hills

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Photo courtesy Eric Danielson
The La Cañada High School football team had to forfeit against South Hills of West Covina after canceling last Friday’s game and being unable to postpone the contest. The matchup between the two teams was canceled because of the poor air quality and proximity to the fire in the Verdugo Mountains.

As a brush fire kept growing in the Verdugo Mountains last Friday afternoon, the La Cañada High School and West Covina South Hills varsity football players stood on the Spartans’ field as coaches and administrators from both sides discussed the cancellation of the nonleague game scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We, meaning the La Cañada administration and coaching staff and [head] referee, all agreed it was not in the best safety interests of the athletes to play on Friday because of the fire and our proximity and the air quality at the time,” said LCHS athletic director Kristina Kalb. “With that being said, South Hills was of the mindset that the game should be played, regardless of our concerns, and disagreed with us about cancelling the game at the time.”
South Hills coaches and officials proposed having the game played on their field on Saturday. After speaking to the coaching staff and administrators, Kalb said they decided as a group that a game on Saturday would not work for them.
Kalb said there was no future date this fall that worked for both teams, forcing La Cañada to accept a forfeit.
“We were clearly getting nowhere in coming to an agreement, and that’s when we just said fine,” she said. “We need to move on and get the kids off the field. Not just ours but yours. It was not safe for the kids.
“[A cancellation] has to be agreed upon by both schools. There were intricacies of the conversation that finally led to that decision. We felt strongly that the game should be canceled. We looked at the option of playing in the bye week, but our byes don’t line up. It wasn’t going to work.”
At 5:15 p.m., Kalb originally tweeted that the game would be delayed to 7:20 p.m., hoping for the conditions to improve. The game was ultimately canceled before 6:30 p.m.
“We did everything we could do to make it happen,” Kalb said. “When the call was made, it was because conditions were getting worse, not better. The air quality was unhealthy and [online sources] advised us outside activities should be halted. I wanted to have a good contest. I’m into athletics. I love competing. But at the end of the day, student safety is more important than the game.”
Kalb said she had given South Hills a warning about the conditions at about 4 p.m., speaking to personnel about the fire and smoke in the air. She admitted that it was difficult to make a call that early but still gave the South Hills staff the option of canceling the game after hearing of other schools doing the same.
Kalb and the football team have moved on from the situation and are ready for this week’s contest at Fontana Kaiser.
“We’re excited to play this Friday night, and I wish South Hills a fantastic football season,” Kalb said.
The Spartans (0-2 overall record) will take on the Cats (0-2 overall) this Friday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.

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