'Surreal almost': Football returns to Oakland Unified high schools after pandemic delay

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- High School football games have returned to Oakland Unified School District after the pandemic created repeated delays for sport which normally begins in the fall.

"This is an incredibly important outlet," said OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki about the sports which have been allowed to return, including badminton, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, swimming and wrestling.

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On Saturday night, Skyline High School had their first home game of the season against McClymonds.

"Really breathtaking, surreal almost," said Skyline Junior Lucas Gerblot about the return to competition.

He said they had some hope in the fall that they might be able to salvage most of their season, but those hopes were dashed as surging COVID-19 cases caused a state lockdown.

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"All I want is to put on the jersey for my school and be part of the team," said Stella Buch, a South Bay freshman volleyball player who is one of the several plaintiffs that sparked the statewide movement.

The season has been shortened so that the four Oakland Athletic League schools will each play each other once, leading to a playoff game and championship. No non-league games will be played.

For seniors hoping to play in college, the recruiting process has been disrupted across the country.

"They would have a much better idea now of what that means in terms of going to college, " said Sasaki about this time during a normal year.

"He might have to go to a JC for a few years to get noticed again," said Levy Davis about his son JC Davis who is a senior at McClymonds.

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He said JC did get into Fresno State but would have to try and walk-on to the football team.

He feels everything his son has been working towards might get overlooked due to the late season.

"What's hard is they are only going to have four games when they would normally have had 10," said Davis.

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