A California high school football program is facing the stark reality of the devastation brought on by the ongoing California wildfires chose the lesser of two evils Friday: It officially forfeited its playoff opener to ensure its players were safe and focusing on their families as the Camp fire approached and essentially engulfed the entire town of Paradise.
As reported by California ABC affiliate KRCR, among other outlets, the Paradise football team forfeited what became its final game because the team was much more concerned about their homes and the welfare of their families than the playoff game they were about to compete.
The decision surely wasn’t a simple one, particularly after an impressive, 8-2 regular season. Still, in a real sense there was no other choice. Yes, it was a playoff game, which brought with any forfeit an immediate end of the season. But that was being compared with lives and the integrity and future of the homes of student athletes and coaches. There was only ever going to be one choice made.
Realizing the toll that fire-related stress was taking on the Paradise team and community, the 49ers invited the football team to the franchise’s Monday Night Football game against the Giants.
“So many of our kids are struggling with life to begin with, they’re teenagers trying to find their way,” Paradise High School Principal Loren Lighthall told KRCR. “I wish more people could go (to the game), I wish we could send the whole town. It’s had a great effect on these kids and me, just to be able to bring them together. It’s a great thing the 49ers are doing.”
It was a classy move from a classy franchise, with Paradise players lining up next to 49ers during the national anthem.
In fact, perhaps the only thing that didn’t go right in the team’s transition out of the season and into survival mode was the final result of the Giants-49ers game, as New York used a final drive to eke out a 27-23 victory.
In the big scheme of things, that’s fine. After all, the Monday Night Football match up was just a football game and not a matter of life and death, much like a high school playoff game.