El Monte schools won’t play football this spring despite falling infection rate

El Monte football coach Jesse Ceniceros.
El Monte football coach Jesse Ceniceros supports his district’s decision to cancel the season.
(Jesse Ceniceros)

The last time El Monte football coach Jesse Ceniceros directed his team was in 2019, when the Lions went 16-0 and won the Division 5-AA bowl game. So the decision of the El Monte Union High School District to cancel football last month might be a shock to some fans. But Ceniceros supports the move for safety reasons because of the coronavirus.

“El Monte has been hit hard,” he said.

Two mothers of players lost their lives to COVID-19, Ceniceros said, so even though Los Angeles County has reached an adjusted case level of 12.3 per 100,000, allowing schools to return to playing football Friday under state guidelines, El Monte is sticking with its decision to cancel the season.

“It’s all about safety of kids and their families and coaches and their families,” he said.


The Mission Valley League made up of El Monte, South El Monte, Rosemead, Gabrielino, Arroyo, Mountain View and Pasadena Marshall won’t be having a league season, according to a league athletic director, but member schools outside the El Monte district could play nonleague games. Gabrielino already indicated it plans to play games.

Ceniceros, meanwhile, said he has started preparing for the fall with Zoom calls and workouts for his players.

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