Season schedule, details come into focus as Summit High School football eyes Oct. 9 start
DILLON — A day after the Summit High School football coaches and players officially learned they will play this fall, the emotion of the moment gave way to forecasting and preparing for what the games will actually look like.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Colorado High School Activities Association released information for Summit’s six scheduled games this season. Though dates and times were not announced, Summit found out it’ll be playing three home games.
Tigers head coach James Wagner said he expects the season-opener to be Oct. 9, meaning the regular season, before any subsequent postseason games, would run through at least Nov. 13 — opening day at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Wagner said the team will play at least one postseason game afterward, whether in the CHSAA playoffs or a one-off, season-ending game.
The Tigers will host Conifer, Palisade and Battle Mountain in Weeks 1, 3 and 5, respectively, while traveling to league members Eagle Valley and Evergreen for Week 2 and 4 matchups before finishing the regular season on the road versus Fort Morgan.
Summit is one of three teams that play in the 3A Western Slope League to move their seasons back up to fall, joining Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Palisade. Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs elected to keep spring seasons.
Because so many individual districts across the state chose between the fall and spring seasons, CHSAA set each school’s fall schedule, which is a task usually undertaken by individual school district athletic departments and directors.
The season schedule announcement came a day after Summit decided between fall and spring. Wagner described Summit High School Director of Athletics Travis Avery as “the anchor” behind the decision-making process over 2 1/2 days, which included collaboration with the district, Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. and county health department guidelines.
“Some of my kids were in tears, so happy and thrilled to get the chance to play,” Wagner said. “I’m telling you, they are so dedicated to the program and team, nothing makes me more happy and excited, especially for the seniors. This makes me so happy for them.”
Wagner said a small number of players — he estimated fewer than five — have decided to opt out of the fall season due to novel coronavirus concerns.
When playing at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge for Summit home games, Wagner said there will be the challenge of playing while wearing a face covering. The team has ordered and will wear uniform neck gaiter facial coverings, and Wagner said playing with a mask is “definitely something that takes getting used to,” though he and Tigers players said they have. Depending on the local COVID-19 regulations for road games, the Tigers and their opponents may or may not be required to wear facial coverings.
“It was a challenge at first, but any chance to play football is a great opportunity,” said Tigers senior captain wide receiver and cornerback Kobe Cortright. “We’ll just take what’s given to us and work hard.”
Cortright figures to be a part of an expanded and more well-versed and spread option this season in Wagner’s second year in charge. It’s a season the coach and players said they are extra ready for with the delay. The long and athletic wide receiver will be on the other end of receiving passes from senior quarterback Cam Kalaf. Kalaf is an experienced and talented dual-threat option out of the backfield for an offense that has returning playmakers like dynamic junior Aidan Collins.
But Tuesday, Kalaf wasn’t looking ahead to the next couple of weeks of practice. He was still harboring his excitement and gratefulness as he vowed he and teammates are “taking the utmost precaution” to protect against the virus, including decreasing their social circles.
A day after Wagner spoke about the importance of the return of football for the players’ mental health, the players mentioned how they feel it’s important for the student body’s morale, as well.
In Monday’s announcement, Avery said there will be spectator limits at games. Further details regarding attendance of games hasn’t been announced, but Kalaf said student body representatives are working to have a student section.
“Yesterday when we found out, a bunch of students were walking up to me (at school) so excited,” Collins said. “They are hoping they are going to be able to go to the games.”
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