BARSTOW - The recent change in the winds around Southern California may be helping firefighters, but they're not doing any favors for High Desert athletics.

The winds recently dropped in velocity and shifted from an offshore to an onshore flow increasing the humidity levels in the air. However, the winds are now blowing smoke, which was previously drifting over the ocean, into Barstow and surrounding communities. With smoke building in the air the Barstow and Silver Valley school districts have now canceled school and all sports events scheduled for Friday due to health concerns. Even the highly anticipated games between Barstow and Silverado, and Silver Valley and Lucerne Valley have been postponed.

Meteorologist Larry Jensen of the National Weather Service said the conditions could continue for several days.

"We're going to see a lot of the smoke from the fires drift across the desert regions," Jensen said. "The wind will be blowing north and east. It'll just be day to day. The conditions should be the same as far out as we can forecast around seven to 10 days."

As Barstow High School football players ran dashes inside the Don Bilsborough Gymnasium, coach Jesse Ceniceros yelled to his team - "Each day we are getting better. We are getting better for Silverado right now."

Although the Aztecs may be getting better for Silverado, they won't be playing them today. The matchup that will probably determine the Desert Sky League champion has been pushed back to 6 p.m. on Monday because of smoke.

"We were really hyped, but when we found out, it kind of bummed us out," senior quarterback Daniel Ta'ase said. "For us, this is the game of the year.
"I was disappointed because I really wanted to play."

The Homecoming dance is still scheduled for Saturday while all other festivities will be held Monday. There's still no guarantee the teams will be able to play Monday either. Barstow Athletic Director Vince Williams said the final decision will be made Monday morning.

"It's frustrating because it is an important game," Ceniceros said. "It's not like it has no meaning. It has bearing on who goes number one and who goes number two."

The Aztecs were almost forced to cancel their game against Quartz Hill in September last year because of fires and smoke around Lancaster. The smoke eventually cleared and the game was played.

The day began with the freshman and JV football games being canceled and the varsity game on standby. Options were considered to play on Saturday or move the game to a neutral site like Burroughs in Ridgecrest. Assistant coach Jose Tapia joked he was ready to travel to Las Vegas just to get the game in. Ceniceros said he would prefer to play Saturday and didn't yet have time to figure out how to keep his players focused during the layoff.

"Now you got Friday, and they are just sitting around," Ceniceros said. "You got Saturday, and they are sitting around. And then you have Sunday, they are sitting around. You come back Monday, you know how it is Monday. It's even hard to come to work on Mondays. They have to come to school, and then they have a game to play that night."

The Aztecs were forced indoors for practice Thursday. While Barstow normally runs a short walk through on Thursdays, Ceniceros kept his players for a video session and full-length practice indoors Thursday and plans to do the same leading up to the game. Although school is canceled, the players will return at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Ceniceros is also planning on practicing Saturday and possibly having a team dinner Sunday.

Barstow isn't the only team changing their schedule. Silver Valley, who was supposed to travel to Lucerne Valley for the annual Pick Game on Friday, will now face the Mustangs at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Lucerne Valley still remains the primary site for the game, but Lucerne Valley Athletic Director Doug South said the game could be moved to Silver Valley depending on game-day conditions. Silver Valley Principal Heather Griggs said the school's website, www.myschoolpages.com/schools/silvervalley, will be updated with information as it becomes available.

The Trojans will be going into Saturday's game after two days without practice. The team was forced off the field by smoke on Thursday and will be unable to practice on Friday because school is canceled, and the majority of the players live far from campus or at Fort Irwin.
Silver Valley coach Andy Campbell said he doesn't believe playing on Saturday will hurt his team.

"If anything, it stirs the pot," Campbell said. "The kids were all upset when we were going to have to reschedule. When Mr.(David) Nivala came and told us the game was on for Saturday, the kids were jazzed. We weren't able to practice, but I feel we're pretty prepared with what we've done earlier in the week."

Volleyball will join football in skipping games this week. Barstow was supposed to face Silverado in Victorville on Thursday, and Silver Valley was supposed to play Boron today, but both matches have been canceled and are yet to be rescheduled.

Barstow Community College cross country coach Ray Perea said his team also canceled practice on Thursday and Friday due to the smoke.