Colorado high school football: Jeffco, Cherry Creek among those opting in to fall season

Colorado high school football teams can begin practice next week, with a majority of teams across the state expected to compete this fall.

Jeffco and Cherry Creek were the first school districts that confirmed to The Denver Post on Thursday of their intent to play autumn football after the Colorado High School Activities Association and Gov. Jared Polis reversed course Wednesday night to authorize a fall season.

Adam Bright, CHSAA assistant commissioner, said member schools received a survey with a Monday deadline to decide whether to play in the spring, as initially planned in response to the pandemic, or with the newly approved fall timeline. Denver Public Schools was the first district to announce it will play football in the spring.

However, Bright said early estimations are that 75 to 80 percent of Colorado high school football teams will play in the fall, including the 2019 Class 5A champion Cherry Creek Bruins. Teams are permitted to begin practice Sept. 24 with games starting the second week of October. The season will be six games long with only eight schools from each classification reaching the playoffs.

“We are planning on playing in Season A with all of our schools this fall,” CCHS athletic director Larry Bull told The Post. “Schools and districts are in very different spots. Some are going to be ready, some are not, and we all need to respect whatever decision people make.”

Cherry Creek’s fall football decision arrived just one day after a coronavirus outbreak at the high school forced 146 students and 14 staff members into a week-long quarantine. It highlights the potential risk for game cancellations should other schools endure similar situations during the season. Games unable to be played due to pandemic concerns will not be rescheduled.

Jim Thyfault, Jeffco Public Schools’ executive director of athletics, said most of the 18 high schools in his district will compete this fall, with some smaller-division programs still weighing their options. If a Jeffco school suffers a coronavirus outbreak, though, it won’t necessarily lead to cancellation of football games.

“You could have a whole school on remote learning but you might only have 10 or 15 kids that are quarantined,” Thyfault said. “So, just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t practice and play. It just really affects those kids who are under the quarantine. That’s going to be something we have to balance.”

As of late Thursday, a combined 32 states had already started their high school football seasons or made plans to begin this fall, according to footballscoop.com. Thyfault expects the Colorado prep football path forward to be unpredictable with schools adapting to public health guidelines almost certain to evolve.

“The next few months are going to be really nervous,” Thyfault said. “But schools around the state are doing their best to look out for the safety of the kids. We’re all in this together.

“The kids are going to be excited to finally get to play again. We really feel like we’re in a good place. If we have the opportunity to play now, we should probably take that, because we don’t know what March or April will bring at this point.”

FOOTBALL SEASON BREAKDOWN

What you need to know about CHSAA’s decision to allow Colorado high schools to play in either a fall or spring football season in 2020-21.

— Teams can only play in one season, which will be structured with the same schedule format. A different champion will be crowned in the fall and spring.

— Schools will play a six-game regular-season schedule with eight teams making the playoffs in each class. Teams that don’t reach the postseason will have an opportunity to play a seventh game against another non-qualifier in either Week 1 or Week 2 of the playoffs. Teams must play at least four games in order to qualify for the postseason.

— The playoff order will be decided by the CHSAA Seeding Index (RPI, MaxPreps, CHSAANow coaches poll and Packard rankings).

— Leagues might potentially be redrawn to accommodate for teams opting for the spring to give each team six opponents.

Key dates

Fall season

  • Sept. 24 — Start of practice
  • Oct. 8 — First game
  • Nov. 21 — First round of the postseason
  • Nov. 28 — Semifinals
  • Dec. 5 — Championships

Spring season

  • Feb. 25 — Start of practice
  • March 11 — First game
  • April 24 — First round of the postseason
  • May 1 — Semifinals
  • May 8 — Championships

*Information provided by chsaanow.com

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