The continued poor air quality in the Treasure Valley forced Boise School District officials to postpone Thursday’s scheduled varsity football game between Boise and Timberline to 2 p.m. Saturday at Dona Larsen Park.
That moves Saturday’s game between Borah and Columbia at Dona Larsen Park to 11 a.m.
Thursday night’s postponement foreshadows a hectic Friday as school officials throughout the Treasure Valley try to determine if their football teams can play by 2 p.m.
The Boise, West Ada and Nampa school districts all cancel outdoor events once the air quality index exceeds 150 into the red and “unhealthy” category. Others schools in the 5A and 4A Southern Idaho Conferences follow similar policies.
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An Idaho Department of Health and Welfare flyer states schools should “consider rescheduling or relocating” sporting events once the air quality index reaches the red alert status.
“As far as the varsity games (Friday), if it’s in the red, we will not hold them,” West Ada spokesman Eric Exline said. “We have a contingency plan to hold them on Saturday.”
But moving games to Saturday en masse could create another headache — a lack of officials. Saturday is home to youth football games, and many high school referees also officiate youth games.
The 4A Southern Idaho Conference enters the weekend in the toughest spot as the league begins its conference schedule. Losing league games would throw a wrench into playoff qualification as not every team would play each other by the end of the regular season.
“If we don’t get it in and play on Saturday, then we may have to contact the IHSAA and see what we can do,” Bishop Kelly Athletic Director Tom Shanahan said. “Maybe we add a week at the end of the season, and then the championships are over Thanksgiving. But I don’t think that’s likely.”
A National Weather Service air quality alert remains in effect until 10 a.m. Friday. A weather system moving through Thursday night into Friday morning is expected to improve the air quality.
The Treasure Valley and Northern Idaho are both fighting air quality concerns. But games should continue as scheduled in the Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls regions. Monitors in Twin Falls and Pocatello are yellow or moderate range as of Thursday afternoon, and monitors in Idaho Falls are in the orange or unhealthy for sensitive groups range.
Another Treasure Valley school has already moved its game to Saturday. New Plymouth will host Nyssa, Ore., at 2 p.m. Saturday.