After a school year during which the sports schedule was dramatically shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high school athletes around the state begin practice for the fall sports Monday.
Football, volleyball, cross country and soccer teams, as well as cheerleading squads, can begin official practices Monday, with the first contests only a few weeks away.
During the 2020-21 school year, the entire sports year was compressed into short seasons that started in February.
This year, things get back to normal, with traditional seasons including a nine-game regular season for football and similarly traditional season lengths for the other sports.
There are some changes to leagues in football, as recommended by the Oregon School Activities Association’s Ad Hoc Football Committee and approved by the OSAA Executive Board in May.
In Class 5A, the special district North Bend is in has been reduced by three schools. The new-look Special District 4 is similar to all the other regular sports for the Midwestern League, with the notable addition of Class 6A South Eugene, which has been in the league for football, and without North Eugene, which will play down to Class 4A for football.
In addition, Redmond and Ridgeview have been moved to Special District 1 after being in the same league with North Bend the past few years.
North Bend will play an eight-game league schedule including all the other teams in the district and leaving room for the annual rivalry game with Marshfield, scheduled for Sept. 17 at Pete Susick Stadium.
North Eugene, meanwhile, will be part of the Sky-Em League (Class 4A District 4) along with Marshfield, Cottage Grove, Elmira and Marist Catholic.
Regular Sky-Em League members Junction City and Siuslaw both play at the Class 3A level for football only.
In another change, Reedsport is back with its regular Sunset Conference members for football after being part of a different special district the past two years. Class 2A Special District 4 includes Bandon, Coquille, Reedsport, Glide, Illinois Valley, Lakeview and Rogue River.
Regular Sunset Conference schools Myrtle Point and Gold Beach both will again play 8-man football, in Class 1A District 1 with many other schools in the southern part of the state.
Powers was part of a cooperative agreement with North Bend during the last regular season, two years ago, and joined Myrtle Point for a coop during the season earlier this year, but will have its own team again this year, in the 6-man format the Cruisers used the two years before that.
The first football contests will be jamborees scheduled for Friday, Aug. 27. North Bend will be at Cottage Grove and Marshfield in Eugene against Churchill and Sheldon that night.
The first day volleyball matches can be held is Aug. 26 and Marshfield hosts a jamboree that day that also includes North Bend and Coquille. Bandon jumps into the season the same day with home matches against Pacific and Oakland and Reedsport is at Oakridge on opening day.
The soccer season also can start as early as Aug. 26.
North Bend’s boys open the season Aug. 28 at Brookings-Harbor and visit Marshfield on Aug. 31, which will be the first game for the Pirates.
North Bend’s girls open against Brookings-Harbor at home on Aug. 28 and host Marshfield on Sept. 1, also Marshfield’s first match.
The cross country season also can open Aug. 26.
North Bend, Bandon and Reedsport will participate in the Umpqua Opener at Stewart Park in Roseburg on Aug. 27.
Marshfield’s season starts Sept. 10 in the Country Fair Classic at Elmira.