May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Could high school football be on the way back? Laguna Hills coach weighs in after Super Bowl

Laguna Hills football coach Mike Maceranka is optimistic about the eventual return of high school football. (File photo Harrison Zhang, For OC Sports Zone)

A tweet by Laguna Hills High School football coach Mike Maceranka shortly after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV caught the attention of many people Sunday night.

“Who would have thought the Super Bowl might not be the end of football season, but just the beginning!” Maceranka wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go California, let us play!”

On Monday, Maceranka elaborated on those comments.

“There seems to be a lot of positive momentum to get high school sports on the field and on the court,” he told OC Sports Zone in an email. “The California Coaches Association has been gaining traction with the Governor’s office and has held meetings with the Governor, his staff and Dr. (Mark) Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services.”

“The big game-changer is the new NFHS guidance which after studying all the states who have played, has shown the transmission of the virus is minimal to none during competion and they recommend the removal of the tiered sports matrix which California adopted as our standard.”

The revised national guidelines from the advisory group were announced last week but there has been no change in the current tiered system which is in place for California. Football is the orange tier, two tiers below the current purple tier, the most restrictive. Cross country is the only sport allowed to have competition.

CIF officials have cancelled post-season playoffs for football but are hoping that teams can play an abbreviated schedule starting in March and running through April. There has been no final decision on whether the football season, which was originally scheduled for August but delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will happen.

Maceranka said he believes this is the time for state officials to allow for the start of football.

“California has been strictly following the science and they can now follow the new science and let us play,” he said.

“After hearing Governor Newsom’s statement after those meetings in which he wants to see sports competitions return and wants to work on a compromise, I am optimistic.

“The coaches who head the Let them Play initiative have also been very positive in their response to the meetings. Parents, educators, coaches, and government officials are all pushing to get kids back on the field and their voices have been heard. Everything looks like we will get an answer very soon.

“Many sports such as football need to get back out there within the next two to three weeks to prepare for an abbreviated season that can be played safely.”

Maceranka added that there are many positive aspects for allowing sports to return.

“All kids who play sports in high school have been waiting since March to compete,” he said. “The morale on campuses across the state will be boosted once we can see our athletes compete. These young men and women only have four short years to play high school sports and many have been dreaming of playing their whole lives. The mental health of students will get a huge boost.

“Once we do start it will be awesome to see games being played every day on campus and the comradery that is formed through sport and school. Club sports do not compare to scholastic sports, the academic success, school pride, and a love for your teammates are unmatched by any specialized club. Most of these kids cannot afford to travel and play for expensive clubs, they need high school sports!”

Maceranka also shared his thoughts on the Super Bowl.

“I love watching the brilliance of Tom Brady.,” he said. “We will never see another one like him and he amazes me each time I watch. To take a team that has not made the playoff in 13 years to a Super Bowl Championship is incredible.”

Last week, Maceranka tweeted that “I love watching the Super Bowl with family and friends, but this year is different. Don’t create a spread event, stay home with your household.”  

Maceranka was the second coach in recent days to be optimistic about the return of high school football. In an interview Friday with OC Sports Zone, Portola High School football coach and athletic director Peter Abe also noted the revised guidelines by the NFHS and said he was holding out hope that football could be played.

Abe also stressed the importance of high school football.

“As much as we want kids to be safe and get a high quality education, the CIF would attest that education-based athletics are important as well and what the kids take from it,” he said.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com