City Section hears proposal to play football in the spring

Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez, using his virtual background, talks to his coaches during a Zoom conference call.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

With the Los Angeles Unified School District uncertain when or whether its campuses will be open for the start of 2020-21 classes scheduled for Aug. 18 and lots of challenges ahead with the coronavirus pandemic, Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez said Monday he wants to prepare to play part of the season in the spring if needed.

“There’s too many loose ends,” he said.

Close to 50 City Section football coaches participated in a Zoom call with City Section Commissioner Vicky Lagos on Monday to offer opinions.

None of the 10 California Interscholastic Federation sections in the state has proposed moving the football season to the spring. “We’re not considering changing any season because it’s way too early at this time,” said Ron Nocetti, executive director of the CIF, the state’s governing body of high school sports.

City Section coaches are facing the obstacle of not having school facilities open this summer, denying opportunities to engage in physical conditioning. There’s also going to be the challenge of getting players required physicals and attracting enough players on rosters when interaction is limited before the start of school on Aug. 18. The City Section would need permission from the CIF to play any games past December.

Lagos asked the coaches how long they would need to prepare teams to play a first game. The consensus was four to six weeks. Coaches also agreed that City playoffs were more important than participating in a state bowl game, giving Lagos a couple weeks of flexibility if the season has to start in September or October instead of August.

Eagle Rock coach Andy Moran, chairman of the football advisory committee, said, “I’m for whatever it takes to have a season.”

If the season were moved to the spring, scheduling opponents would be a huge hurdle, requiring teams to face only City Section opponents. There also would be conflicts for use of facilities and trouble for athletes who play multiple sports.


San Pedro coach Corey Miller said he opposes football in the spring. “The reason is anything after Christmas, you put our kids in a bad spot. ‘Am I going to play football or am I going to play baseball?’ My quarterback is the third baseman. I don’t want to put him in that spot.”

Nocetti said it’s too early to figure out new football practice rules while the state continues to require social-distancing measures.

“We can’t come up with any rules for practice because we don’t have a date when we return,” he said.

Feedback is expected this month in both the City Section and Southern Section when both hold administrative meetings to discuss contingency plans.

The City Section coaches have voted to change their playoff format similar to the new format proposed in the Southern Section. Teams would be seeded based on their performance in 2020 while using rankings. Teams have been placed in divisions before the season based on their last two years of results. The Board of Managers must give final approval.

“We want to have football in the fall. We’re going to fight for it,” said Shane Cox, the coordinator for City football.

Said Lagos: “We’re dedicated to having some kind of season for these kids. We’ll be very flexible.”