By Michael Carman
Olympic Peninsula News Group
If the 2020-2021 school year had been a normal one, Forks would have opened its first season as a member of the Class 2B Pacific League in most sports, according to Spartans athletic director Kyle Weakley.
Due to the lack of 2B schools in the Northwest region, Forks decided to stick with the plan and compete against its new league partners.
“We are in the 2B Pacific League, primarily Grays Harbor and Pacific County schools,” Weakley said. “For some of our sports, we co-mingle with the Chehalis area schools. Our path moving forward is working with our new league and the Central League in putting things together.”
Football is divided into divisions with other Southwest District 2B schools by perceived competitive level — and Forks, a solid 1A team last season will face some of the more challenging teams.
“We have a football schedule that we have adopted, Kalama, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Rainier, Onalaska [2B state champions in 2019],” Weakley said.
“After our meeting [Friday], it was decided we are going to move forward with a Feb. 1 start date for Season 1. “With football we are going to basically plug and play, if Kalama is not going to be able to play week one, we would seek out a team in our region for a game, but we would continue through the schedule and not make up the Kalama game.
There are more opportunities to play other Season 1 sports such as girls soccer and volleyball and more time to make those games up, so games that are put off could potentially return later on the schedule.
Weakley is looking into live streaming games as attendance will be limited.
“We had a long, long talk about that today,” Weakley said. “We are trying to coordinate with the Central League to make sure parents and fans are on the same page. If you are a traveling team, the amount of essential staff and players that you need is all you will be able to bring [to away games].
“We have discussed some sort of priority for attending games, starting with senior parents at the event. And we are looking into live streaming for folks who can’t be there.”
Class 1B schools
Quilcene, Crescent, Clallam Bay and Neah Bay all are looking to return to practices Feb. 1 for volleyball and football.
“We are trying to gear up and I honestly think we are going to start practice Feb. 1,” Crescent superintendent Dave Bingham said. “They may be socially distanced practices depending on what phase we are in.”
Neah Bay has been in the conversation on re-starting prep sports, Bingham said.
“They have some very strict protocols and their tribal council over the next three or four weeks will have to approve their return, but they have been asked to be included in schedule making for volleyball and football,” Bingham said.
Cape Flattery School District Superintendent Michelle Parkin said district officials are working toward meeting tribal health requirements.
“With the proper safety plan submitted I am confident that we will be able to get athletes participating, but all of those components have to be in place,” Parkin said.
Bingham said the North Olympic League met Friday to develop a volleyball schedule and football will follow.
Quilcene will be on the NOL volleyball schedule, Rangers athletic director Mark Thompson confirmed, and will also likely play football against as many NOL teams as it they can.
“Definitely volleyball for sure,” Thompson said. “We are kind of in a wait-and-see approach with football to see how many teams will be available to play. But its a no-brainer to play Crescent.”
Other Northwest Region teams that are in the mix are Crosspoint [a Class 2B private school in Kitsap County] and Mason County school Mary M. Knight.
“We are looking at ways of building some schedules with teams we know are going to be in the same phase of the governor’s plan,” Bingham said.
Bingham also hinted at some “very tough decisions” that may have to be made regarding fan attendance.
“We are looking at opportunities to stream those events, looking into the in’s and outs,” Bingham said. “It won’t be like ESPN or Fox Sports.”