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Moscow High School Replaces Fall Sports With Intramurals
The Bears will not play other schools but instead use an intramural format this year
Published: 8/14/2020 1:08:40 AM

Moscow High School sports won't be hitting the road this fall. 

In an email sent Thursday night, the administration announced traditional fall sports would be canceled, replaced with an "intramural" model where Moscow athletes compete against each other instead of traveling to other schools.

"As we move forward within this pandemic, our district leadership has had to make tough decisions that we wish we would never have to confront," read Friday's press release. "Unfortunately, after further review, we have determined that there is too great a risk to our students and community when travelling to other communities, as well as when other communities come to our facilities."

According to Moscow Athletic Director Lance Abendroth, the previous cancellations of Idaho, Washington State and Pullman athletics helped paint a clearer picture for the school district when making the decision. Local discussion and expert medical advice were also taken into account, he said. 

"We had to take a hard look and ask are we keeping our community and other communities safe when we travel," Abendroth said. "This was not an easy decision, and it was not a snap decision."

The Bears had yet to complete their first week of practice when the announcement was released. Ahead of this season's intramural competitions, Abendroth said fans can attend, as long as they follow proper social distancing guidelines and wear a mask in accordance to city mandates. 

Abendorth said while he didn't want to offer false hope, Moscow could return to regular competition if case numbers across the state, especially up north, improve. But at the end of the day, Abendorth said his program's "acceptable death rate" was absolutely zero. 

"What we're trying to do is keep people safe. I totally understand the frustration," he said. "It absolutely breaks my heart. I know these kids, I've watched them since they were young. I feel horrible, but I don't feel as bad if I had to see that parent, that family, knowing we caused them harm."

Senior lineman Kaden Kiblen, an All-Inland Empire selection in 2019, said he found out the news in his team's group chat and thought someone had to be pulling a prank. But once the news became solidified, Kiblen said it wasn't easy to process. 

"The coronavirus isn't anything to joke with. I hope other players get a chance to get their name out there and continue their season," Kiblen said. "I think it's the right decision to make, not just to protect the players, but the entire community."

As for if fall sports could have been conducted safely, Kiblen said he wasn't sure. 

"I wish there was a way, but it's hard for me to see a way where it could have been played safely," he said. "I think we definitely took the right precautions, but I don't think there would be zero risk involved for everybody."

As of Friday night, Latah County had recorded 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Senior receiver Lane Hanson said the decision to pull the plug on league play came much too soon, especially considering the city of Moscow's dedication to social distancing and Mayor Bill Lambert's recent mask mandate. According to Friday's press release, Moscow High School's aim will be to create an NBA-like "bubble" to allow students the opportunity to compete safely and improve their skills. 

"I was definitely angry and I was looking for someone to blame," Hanson said. "I think there's a solution. I'm definitely disappointed that this is how we decided to handle it. I do understand that the concerns are legitimate, but I'm disappointed that we gave in so early."

Hanson and Kiblen both agreed that having no sports hurts the recruiting opportunities of not just football players, but all athletes on the Palouse. 

"It makes it difficult for us recruits who don't have that name, that recognition," Kiblen said. "Idaho and Utah were the only states who were going to play football on time, so that would have brought a lot of recruiting attention to our area."

Senior quarterback Chad Redinger said he and his family briefly discussed transferring to another school in the area that would permit him to compete. Redinger said he didn't like the thought of potentially stealing another high school senior's shot at a varsity position, nor would he want to compete without the teammates he's bonded with for the past four years. 

"I just want to be with the people I've grown up playing football with," Redinger said. "We tried to everything we could to have this season go on, and now it's gone. I just feel grief. Grief and disbelief."

As for the rest of the season, Hanson said having no traditional competitions to look forward to will make his senior grind that much more difficult. With no current plans to compete at the collegiate level, Hanson said 2020 was his last chance at gridiron glory. 

"I was in the head space that as long as I had a football season, I would have a senior year. Now it feels like I have nothing," Hanson said. "Now it feels like I just have school, and then I'm off into the real world. It's a reality shock, for sure." 


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