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Colorado prep football: Future of 4A/5A state title games at Mile High unclear after 2022

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Colorado prep football: Future of 4A/5A state title games at Mile High unclear after 2022

The ultimate dream for big-school high school football teams in Colorado is to finish their season on the state’s grandest stage: Empower Field at Mile High.

“To have a chance to play here is a big, big deal for kids,” Cherry Creek head coach Dave Logan said.

But the future site of 4A and 5A football championship games is uncertain.

CHSAA has partnered with the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, a nonprofit responsible for putting on the games since 2005, to crown football champions inside the home of the Denver Broncos. Their current agreement expires following the 2022 season. The CSHOF has offered CHSAA a new contract to keep state title games at Mile High through 2024, but a new deal has not been reached.

“We want to do it and the Broncos want to keep doing it,” CSHOF president and CEO Tom Lawrence said. “But we have received no response.”

CHSAA assistant commissioner Adam Bright confirmed there have been no “real serious conversations yet” regarding future plans for hosting big-school football championship games beyond 2022. CHSAA is weighing all of its venue options moving forward.

“It’s something where we need to sit down and address a contract that has been in place for (many) years. It’s probably time to make some adjustments to it,” Bright said. “The beauty of it is that it’s not something we have to rush into. We don’t have to make a decision today. We know where we’re going to be next year and we have a great partnership. It’s something we can take some time to really look at and decide what’s best for the sport of football as a whole in the state of Colorado at the high school level.”

On Tuesday, select players and head coaches from the four big-school state finalists — No. 5 Erie vs. No. 7 Chatfield (4A) and No. 1 Valor Christian vs. No. 2 Cherry Creek (5A) — spoke with reporters to preview their respective title games Saturday. They were nearly unanimous in support of playing at Empower Field.

“I definitely think it should be played at Mile High. It’s such a great opportunity to be able to play here. It’s a dream for some kids,” Valor Christian senior running back Gavin Sawchuk said. “I thank the Broncos and CHSAA for being able to put it on this year. I’d love to have it here in (future) years.”

Chatfield senior kicker/punter Andre Haddad said: “If it were not to be held at Mile High anymore, I think that would be a letdown for a lot of future generations of players. Because this is something that we look forward to and something you work for. It’s a landmark for us.”

One reason CHSAA might seek an Empower Field alternative? The opportunity to feature state championship games for all seven classifications at the same location.

Bright said the idea is to “celebrate all levels of football.” But the natural grass field at Mile High is ill-equipped to handle seven title games while maintaining an NFL-ready playing surface.

“I was in Limon last night being with our six-man coaches and talking with them about next season and the idea that you can create a culminating event — like our state wrestling tournament — and how awesome it is to have all classifications together,” Bright said. “Those are things we want to explore and see. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I want to talk to other state associations that have pulled it off.”

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Wilmington deadly train strike: MBTA says ‘human error’ is behind ‘heartbreaking accident’

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Wilmington deadly train strike: MBTA says ‘human error’ is behind ‘heartbreaking accident’

Police investigating the fatal collision of a Commuter Rail train into a vehicle last Friday say that “human error” is behind the horrific wreck that occurred in Wilmington.

The victim of the devastating crash was Roberta Sausville, 68, of Wilmington, according to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators say that Sausville was driving alone on Middlesex Avenue in Wilmington at around 5:51 p.m. when an inbound Haverhill Line train struck the driver’s side of her vehicle near the North Wilmington MBTA station. Sausville was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation remains active, but “human error is the primary focus of investigators from MBTA Transit Police, State Police and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

Less than an hour before the accident, a signal maintainer for Keolis — the Commuter Rail operator — was performing regularly scheduled testing and preventative maintenance of the railroad crossing’s safety system.

“Following the testing, our preliminary finding is that the safety system was not returned to its normal operating mode,” Poftak said. “This failure resulted in the crossing gates not coming down in a timely manner as the train approached Middlesex Avenue.

“Investigators have not found any defects nor any other problems with the various elements that comprise the infrastructure of the railroad crossing system,” he added.

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

Minnesotans who get a serious case of COVID-19 may face long odds of getting one of the life-saving treatments that can fight off the omicron variant because they are in such short supply.

State health officials had steadily increased the availability of monoclonal antibodies — a type of antibody infusion — to help high-risk patients avoid severe COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, now only one monoclonal antibody formula, Sotrovimab, works against omicron.

“That is in very low supply nationally and in Minnesota,” Jan Malcolm, health commissioner, recently told members of the Minnesota House health committee.

The state has moved to a random selection process to decide who gets what monoclonal antibodies the state has on hand. This week it got just under 600 doses of Sotrovimab, a slight increase from the week before.

The state received larger allocations of the two new antiviral pills — Molnupiravir and Paxlovid — getting about 12,000 total doses of those newly approved pills since they became available in December.

The random selection process the state uses is a weighted system that identifies patients who would most benefit from monoclonal treatments. When treatments are scarce, patients who receive the medicines are picked through a lottery.

In some instances, the process could give consideration to front-line health workers who were sickened while caring for COVID patients. Many Minnesota health systems, but not all, follow the state’s guidance for distributing scarce treatments.

The guidelines do not take into account whether someone has been vaccinated.

The state stopped using race as a factor in that weighted system for allocating monoclonal treatments Jan. 12 after America First Legal threatened a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Health alleging racial and ethnic discrimination.

“These racist policies decide questions of life and death based on skin color and must be rescinded immediately,” Stephen Miller, the group’s president and a former adviser to President Trump, said in a statement. “No right is safe if the government can award or deny medical care based on race. End this horrid injustice.”

America First Legal filed a lawsuit Jan. 16 against the New York State Department of Health for a similar policy.

Throughout the pandemic, Minnesota Department of Health data has shown Black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian and multiracial residents have had higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and death than white residents.

When asked about the rationale for removing race as a factor, despite it being part of federal guidance, a state Department of Health spokesman said in an emailed statement:

“The State of Minnesota is committed to serving all Minnesotans equitably in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need is critical and we are constantly reviewing our policies in order to meet that goal.”

Minnesota continues to experience record high caseloads of COVID-19 driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. The state is reporting, on average, more than 11,000 new infections each day and test-positivity is at 27 percent.

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

The Nuggets don’t know easy. It’s just not in their nature.

Denver avoided what would’ve been an ugly double-digit, fourth-quarter collapse Sunday and hung on to beat the Pistons, 117-111. Up 16 points to start the fourth quarter, Detroit chiseled away at the lead, tying it twice in the final two minutes.

Former Nugget Trey Lyles added to the drama with eight of his 18 in the fourth quarter, but the Pistons were rebuffed by Nikola Jokic, who scored six consecutive points late to ice the game.

Jokic finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, snapping his four-game triple-double streak. Not that it mattered to Jokic.

The Nuggets, now 24-21, will get the Pistons again Tuesday in Detroit to start their daunting six-game road trip. They ended their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record.

DeMarcus Cousins was relatively underwhelming in his Nuggets debut, finishing with just two points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. But he was part of a strong bench showing, which saw the Nuggets outscore Detroit’s reserves 41-37.

In addition, the Nuggets hung 60 points in the paint to help combat 18 points each from Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart and Cade Cunningham.

Each time the Nuggets looked like they’d create separation, they’d turn it over or fail to capitalize on an open 3-pointer. Finally, with 4:50 left in the third quarter, Jokic found Bryn Forbes lingering outside the 3-point line, and he drained the look. Two minutes later, reserve Davon Reed knocked in a 3, and shortly thereafter, so did Facu Campazzo.

As Campazzo trotted back on defense, he looked to the sky with relief. Zeke Nnaji canned a triple before the quarter was over, and the Nuggets’ second unit had engineered a 92-76 lead heading into the final quarter.

Playing some with Jokic and some with the reserves, Forbes looked more comfortable than he did in his debut.

“When you make a trade, in and of itself, that takes some time because you’re bringing in a new person, a new personality to a locker room, to a culture,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

His prior experience with well-respected organizations like Milwaukee and San Antonio helped ease the transition.

Entering Sunday, Malone had a healthy fear of the rebuilding Pistons for one specific reason.

“As I told our players, when you’re a team like Detroit, they have nothing to lose,” Malone said pre-game.

He said human nature becomes a factor, and teams inevitably let their guard down against lottery-bound teams.

“… These games scare the hell out of me,” he said.

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