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Poor air quality, COVID exposures cancel Friday night lights
football and helmet

Air quality concerns and COVID-19 quarantine protocols put a halt to every high school football game in the Journal’s coverage area Friday night.

As fires blaze throughout the state and locally near Jamestown and Sonora, Turlock High’s varsity home game against Clayton Valley Charter High School was postponed to 10 a.m. Saturday, while Hilmar High’s away contest against Los Banos was moved to 7 p.m. Monday night. Additionally, Hilmar's Sept. 3 home game against Modesto High was moved to 7 p.m. Sept. 4.

The air quality reached unhealthy levels in Turlock Friday night with a reading of 167. 

Denair High’s scheduled trip to play Sparks High School in Nevada on Friday night was cancelled earlier in the week, also due to air quality concerns.

According to Turlock High head coach James Peterson, the Central California Athletic League along with Hilmar jointly decided to postpone their Friday night games. After losing 41-0 against Rocklin High last week as five players, along with Bulldog quarterback Cole Gilbert, were forced to sit out due to COVID-19 exposure, Peterson is looking forward to trotting his complete squad out onto the turf at Joe Debely Stadium on Saturday morning.

“Roster wise, everyone’s ready to go,” Peterson said. “It’s kind of like this is our first game.”

Pitman High, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky this week. On Thursday, the Pride was forced to cancel their Friday night game against Lincoln High in Stockton after quarantine protocols left them with about 12 players unable to play, head coach Eric Reza said. 

According to Pitman athletic director Dave Walls, the game isn’t rescheduled and won’t count as a loss or forfeit for the Pride.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to being able to play again next week,” Walls said.