The popping of football pads will soon be heard once again in Wallowa County.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday, Feb. 10, announced that the Oregon Health Authority's ban on outdoor contact sports will be revised, lifting for some counties the prohibition that had left teams either unable to play football at all or forced them into a passing, touch, or flag football scenario.
“School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional, and physical health," Brown said in a press release. "We will proceed with caution, to ensure that teams are following health and safety precautions to protect our athletes, their families, and their communities.”
Schools can resume outdoor contact sports based on where their county risk level is at. In low and moderate risk counties, practice and games will be allowed to resume based on forthcoming guidance from the OHA. Counties marked high and extreme risk would have to meet additional stipulations before they could return to the gridiron.
Wallowa County is currently a low-risk county, meaning the Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph football teams all would be eligible to take the field.
It would be the first full-contact action for the football teams since 2019. All three schools took part in a 5-on-5 passing league during Season 1 in the fall.
Noncontact practice activities, such as conditioning, began Monday, Feb. 8. Full contact in pads can begin Tuesday, Feb. 15.
The season is slated to begin the week of March 1.
Indoor contact sports, such as basketball and wrestling, continue to be prohibited by the OHA, the Oregon School Activities Association pointed out in a tweet.
Editor's note: This story will be updated.