A total of 11 Siskiyou County football players were invited to participate in the games this year. The 11-man and 8-man contests were scheduled for July 18 at Shasta College in Redding, after being moved from June 20 last month. This was done with the hope things would improve by July.

An annual tradition for Northern Section senior football players was called off last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Tuesday, it was announced that the 43rd Annual Lions All-Star Football Games were canceled.

A total of 11 Siskiyou County football players were invited to participate in the games this year. The 11-man and 8-man contests were scheduled for July 18 at Shasta College in Redding, after being moved from June 20 last month. This was done with the hope things would improve by July.

Ray Odom, game director and a member of the Lions International Club out of Hamilton City said it was a tough but necessary decision to make.

“We have prepared all year for this and we worked hard to try to figure out how to have the games take place,’ he said. “It was not an easy decision to make".

Lane Kindley of Mount Shasta High, an offensive and defensive lineman, was invited to play in the 11-man contest along with teammate Kayden Crisci, a running back/linebacker.  Alex Guzman of Weed High School also made the team as a fullback/linebacker.

Kindley said that it was tough to hear the news the event had been called off.

“When I heard the game was called off I was really disappointed because it was an opportunity to play with the kids I have been playing against for the last three years,” he said.  “I was looking forward to having the opportunity to play with people I’ve never met and to have one more high school game." 

The main reason the games were called off was due to complications with the accommodations for players, Odom said.

Originally, the players from the South teams were to train and stay at Chico State University, but the school decided recently to close for the summer due to the pandemic. There was talk of moving the south players to Shasta College, where the north teams would be practicing and staying at.

The problem, Odom said, was the college is remodeling its dorms at the time and they only had room set aside for the north players.

With such short notice  to find other housing accommodations and to keep safe social distancing  guidelines,  this obstacle proved too much to overcome,

“This was the clincher for us,” Odom said. “There was no way around this situation.”

Another factor was uncertainty if the game would meet state guidelines when July 18 rolled around. For the game to happen, the state needed to be in Phase 4 of the California Reopening Plan, which allows concerts, conventions and sports with a live crowd to reopen.

Odom said there was a possibility that even if things worked out with the accommodations if phase 4 was not implemented in time, the games could not happen.

“It would have been a challenge playing a football game with fans while practicing social distancing,” he said.

In the 8-man contest, running back defensive end David Wolfe of McCloud High made the North squad.

Other players who made the team from Siskiyou County are defensive back Keelan Hahn, Henry Ascencio, a running back, defensive back, wide receiver safety Jose Martinez, and Gus Loza, a center /nose guard, all made the team from Tulelake High. Butte Valley quarterback/cornerback Matthew Rodriguez was also selected.

 Other members of the 11-man north squad from Siskiyou County are Tyler Rightmeier of Yreka High, an offensive lineman, and defensive lineman. Calvin Thackeray of Etna High, a fullback/linebacker were also named to the 11-man North squad.

Lions International operates the game as a fundraiser for Children’s Diabetic Camp at Camp McCumber.

“Everyone’s disappointed,” Odom said. “I feel bad for the kids, It’s been a tough year for these seniors.”

He added each player will have their game jerseys, which had already been ordered, delivered to them as a way to recognize these players. 

“I think that’s a nice gesture and it’s going to be a cool thing to have,” Kindley said about the jerseys to be given to the players.

After graduation, Kindley plans to move to Redding and go to school and play football at Shasta College.

 Odom added they hope to have the players honored during the games next year.