Who’s playing, who’s not, who’s picketing and where the activities are being held — it’s a “fluid situation” of the utmost variety when it comes to the B.C. high school football season.
The ongoing teachers’ strike has caused a series of last-minute changes, field re-allocation and questions as to whether more than 3,000 students across B.C. will play any meaningful games this year.
Games are slated for this weekend, although one of the two Tri-Cities teams won’t be participating. Saturday’s exhibition contest between Terry Fox Secondary and a U.S.-based high school has been cancelled, while Friday’s clash between New West and Centennial is going ahead as planned.
“Right now, we’re trying to get the season going,” said Bernie Crump, president of the British Columbia High School Football Association. “We’ve got almost 75 per cent of our programs running this weekend. We’re hopeful that it will go off as planned.”
Crump said that as of Wednesday, 15 of the 16 AAA varsity programs in B.C. have committed to playing this year, while 23 of the 32 AA programs will also give it a go.
Crump noted that each of those consenting teams have received the backing of administrators at their respective schools.
“All the games are usually off site anyway and they’re not on school fields. So it shouldn’t have any impact on the picketing that way,” said Crump, a teacher at Coquitlam’s Pinetree Secondary. “We’ve also instructed our coaches that if they do show up to any of the practices and there are picket lines, they have to honour all picket lines and don’t cross anything.”
The format of the season does remain in question, however.
Sources have told the Tri-Cities NOW that if a resolution is not found, the entire season could be played in the form of exhibition games. It’s also been suggested the season could be scrapped entirely. It’s expected that the association will meet early next week to hammer out further details.
“It could be in jeopardy, but I won’t say it’s going to be an exhibition season,” Crump said. “We’ve got a couple other things in the fire about different ways we can go if we have to. We’re hoping to start getting league games in in October and get a minimum of four games in before the championship.”
Terry Fox co-coach Tom Kudaba declined commenting on the ongoing strike, while Centennial coach Barry Taitinger referred to the season’s start date as a “fluid situation.”
“Nobody can hazard a guess as to when [the strike] will end, but what we do know is that it will end,” Taitinger said. “So we have to try to do the best that we can for these players. You want them to have a great experience.”
Crump said that mid October could be the latest the season could get started, as that timeframe would allow for at least four league games before playoffs begin. He did note, however, that there’s no “hard deadline” that’s been set as of yet.
“It’s a tough call with everything that’s happening,” Crump said. “But we’re trying to do it for the kids and trying to make sure the kids at least have something.”
As of Thursday, Centennial was slated to open regular season play Sept. 19 against St. Thomas More, while Fox was pitted against Mt. Boucherie.
© 2015 Tri-Cities Now