Smoky air a concern as high school sports kick off

Practice for many high school fall sports were set to begin on Monday, but smoky air had many coaches and athletic directors concerned.

BOISE - The first day of high school football practice began a little earlier than normal for most Treasure Valley coaches and athletic directors.

"It started with me waking up at about three in the morning," joked Capital High head football coach Todd Simis. "I checked my phone to see what the air quality was."

"This morning at five o'clock when I woke up," said Mountain View athletic director Luke Wolf. "I was checking (Air Quality Index) and it said red."

A usual day of excitement instead had plenty of uncertainty, as a haze casted a shadow of doubt on whether or not players would actually be allowed to practice outside.

"We've learned over the years that this is what happens," Wolf said.

"If the air quality is red, then you can't do any running or any type of conditioning - not even a regular practice," explained Mountain View head football coach Judd Benedict.

"It kind of sucks because our mentality is to come out on the first day of football (and play hard)," said Capital senior cornerback Carter Johnson. "To have a distraction like that, we just try to keep it out of our minds."

The uncertainty that lingered over fields throughout the Treasure Valley began to lift around 8 a.m., when real-time monitoring by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality showed some locations had lowered from Red to Orange.

"Best case scenario," said Benedict. "Now we have the opportunity to be out here, which is how your season should start."

The same could be said over at Capital High School. The Eagles started practice 30 minutes late Monday morning, which was much better than the alternative.

"The alternative was to try and squeeze three teams in a gym or a hitting facility and (do) a walk thru," Simis said. "We have to be outside if we can. I understand if we can't but the difference is night and day."

The good news did not come without limitations though. Player safety is still a concern.

"What we're doing is we're practicing two short practices early in the morning," Simis said.

"When it comes time to condition, you're not conditioning as much as you normally would," explained Benedict, "knowing that the air quality is not great."

With many high schools taking part in two-a-days, it's a situation the administrators will continue to monitor.

"What I'll tell our coaches after this morning session is we'll have to monitor it all day long," said Wolf, "and you're going to have to make plans and have a contingency plan for afternoon practice if it gets bad."

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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