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AIA gives Vail High Schools approval for extension of football season during COVID-19 pandemic

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TUCSON (KVOA) -  Just a few days after recommendations came down from the Pima County Health Department to suspend all high school football activities this fall to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, schools within the Vail Unified School District have proposed their own plan to allow the teams to keep on playing. 

On Monday morning, the AIA voted in favor of the Vail Unified School District proposal, that'd allow the Cienega and Empire High School football teams to move forward with plans for a modified season.

Jay Campos, from the Vail Unified School District and former high school football coach, made the presentation to the AIA.

"This is not a green light that everyone is going to go ahead and for sure start and play from October 30th all the way to December 18th, but, the AIA granted us the ability to have a framework that we can potentially play games during those time periods if it is safe enough to do so," said Campos.

Here are some key points to the proposal:

  • The option for football players to be "bubbled" into groups & not take part in on-campus learning. 
  • Covid-19 tests must be conducted on regular basis for players & coaches.  
  • Families are required to sign waivers for their children to play.

Spiezio Gonzalez, Cienega Jr. Runningback/Linebacker, says he's excited to get back on the gridiron. "We've been doing countless hours in the weight room, off season, and just hitting it, and it sucks to see all that hard work go for nothing," said Gonzalez,  "It means everything having a season to us."

Jay Campos added, "It's been important to our superintendents that we have mitigation strategies that are above and beyond what maybe some other schools are doing around the state, that we try to reduce the spread as much as possible and keep our folks safe."

The extension of the season would mean that Cienega, Empire and any other schools that adopt this format would not be able to take part in a championship game. However, there will be a bonus game, much like the Pac-12 is doing, for all teams to close out their season in mid-December.

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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last 3 years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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