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Smoked out: Area games postponed

Players on the Atwater football team found themselves on a surprise road trip Friday.

For the second straight day, the Merced Union High School District cancelled all outdoor athletic events because of poor air quality due to smoke lingering in the air from the 20,000-acre fire in Plumas County.

"As much as we wish to avoid cancelling these events for our students and communities, we hold the health of all of our student athletes as our highest priority," superintendent Robert Fore said in a release.

Instead of cancelling its season opener, Atwater hopped on a bus and made the three-and-a-half-hour trip to Grass Valley to play Nevada Union.

Both the Atwater varsity and junior varsity teams made the trip. The freshmen game was cancelled.

"Everybody pulled together to make it work out," Atwater coach Bob Valladao said. "Our principal, athletic director, our associate principal all helped out. For putting the trip together at 11 o'clock, we did pretty good."

Livingston's home opener also became a road trip when its game against Bret Harte was moved to Angels Camp. The junior varsity game was cancelled.

Le Grand's home opener against Chowchilla was moved to today at noon and Delhi's game against Novato San Marin has been postponed. Delhi will travel to Novato today to face San Marin at 6 p.m.

"It's tough," Le Grand coach Rick Martinez said. "You practice all week and work hard to get everything done and ready to play and then you can't play.

"It's disappointing. The kids were excited and ready to hit somebody else. But I understand because of the air."

The district cancelled all outside events for the weekend also, which prevented schools from trying to reschedule games for today.