This week student athletes and coaches at Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) began preparing for fall sports which were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic setbacks.

On The Run

Members of the Clatskanie Middle/High School volleyball team workout during drills at the school Wednesday afternoon.

CMHS Athletic Director Ryan Tompkins said football, soccer, volleyball and cross-country teams will start competitive play in March.

Tompkins said statewide there has been low participation in the school sports programs.

“Some of the kids are still maintaining online learning and some kids are in the building, so there has been a lot of inconsistencies, but the kids that are coming out and that feel comfortable, and their families feel comfortable with them participating, we are going to provide the best opportunities for them,” he said.

Tompkins said league structures and state tournaments are yet to be set.

Gearing Up

Clatskanie Middle High School football coach Judd Stutzman, right, hands a helmet to one of the student athletes getting ready for team practice.

“We are slowly stepping back into things,” he said. “We have a lot of adults and coaches that are putting in the work and willing to wear the mask and to the safety protocols to provide the kids with these opportunities.”

The fall competitive season begins March 1 and runs through the first week of April.

“We’ll have five to six football games, 12 to 14 volleyball contests, 10 to 12 soccer games, and five to seven cross country meets,” Tompkins said. “There will be a lot of variations because some schools will be playing only in their county, some schools are saying they will do everything they can to participate in competition. It’s changing every day, so there has to be a lot of flexibility.”

Tompkins said CMHS faces bus limitations and pandemic safety requirements.

“Occupancy is limited to 24 students, so we’ll have one student per seat,” he said. “We are running a lot of bus runs for regular classes right now for both grade school and the high school, that means busing will definitely be stretched. We are currently seeking bus drivers.”

Tompkins says because of the limitations, CMHS will focus on close county sports competitions, including Columbia and Clatsop counties.

“We are currently building schedules and we will stick to that range as much as possible,” he said.

The challenge for football, Tompkins said, will be the number of kids that turnout.

“We have some flexibility if we don’t have enough players to play 11-man football,” he said. “We may end up playing 9-man or 8-man football, maybe some flag football. We are basically opening the barn door wide open, and schools are being really flexible to allow the kids to play. Because there isn’t a league championship, there is not a need to stick to classifications.”

This season, CMHS football is expected to face Warrenton, Rainier, Corbett, Yamhill-Carlton, and Blanchet Catholic. Other CMHS sports team's competition schedules were in the works as of Thursday morning, Feb. 18.

“Our overriding principal is to just create opportunities for the kids, so we are going to do everything we can to create opportunities, knowing that there will be uncertainties,” he said. “Starting next Monday, we will have all grades back in the building again, so we are excited to see that consistency.”

Tompkins and CMHS administrators are closely following county and state pandemic safety metrics that are designed to allow more of a normal school schedule, based on two-week notices.

“The schedules will be built on that two-week window, he said. “You have to make adjustments. We are hoping that the trend of the metrics is stable and that things improve. Still, we are excited to get started.”

The majority of the CMHS sports competitions will be held with no fans permitted under the state health and safety requirements.

Tompkins has scheduled a Zoom virtual meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, with parents to review safety protocols, schedules, facilities and to answer questions. For more information, email Tompkins at rtompkinsQcsd.k12.or.us, or call CMHS at 503-728-2146.

Follow CMHS sports at thechiefnews.com and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.

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