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Local News

Friday Night Lights Scores Reprieve for Flag Football to Continue at La Colina Junior High

Youth organization reaches agreement with Santa Barbara Unified School District; some games will move to Thursday

Several hundred kids participate each year in the Friday Night Lights flag-football program. As part of its agreement with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to continue using the campus of La Colina Junior High School, the league will shift its games to Thursdays, finish earlier in the evening and place limits on parking. Click to view larger
Several hundred kids participate each year in the Friday Night Lights flag-football program. As part of its agreement with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to continue using the campus of La Colina Junior High School, the league will shift its games to Thursdays, finish earlier in the evening and place limits on parking. (Friday Night Lights photo)

Friday Night Lights threw a last-second Hail Mary pass — for a touchdown.

The Spring FNL flag football season is back on, months after the Santa Barbara Unified School District made an administrative decision not to renew field permits at La Colina Junior High School.

The nonprofit youth organization and the school district worked out an agreement that will allow the season to continue, albeit with some concessions by FNL.

All games will remain on Friday night, except for two Thursday night games, March 22 and on May 17, the first night of playoffs.

In addition, games will start no later than 6:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. Families will no longer be able to park on the basketball court blacktop either.

Ted Pallad, president of FNL Santa Barbara, said he’s happy that the flag-football league will stay alive for the hundreds of families who participate.

“We got our field back,” he told Noozhawk. “We made a few concessions but bottom line is that 300 kids get to play flag football starting March 22nd.”

La Colina Junior High has been the home of the organization since it began in the fall of 2016.

The league previously held games from about 4 to 8 p.m. on Fridays. It quickly emerged as one of the most popular youth sports activities on the South Coast. With the rise in concussion awareness surrounding contact football, many parents have chosen FNL as a viable alternative for young people who want to learn the game prior to high school.

The school district decided not to renew the field permits, citing the size of the organization and concerns about the noise impact on nearby residential areas.

After Pallad announced the plight of the program, many families offered their public support. Boys and girls from 38 elementary and middle schools in the Santa Barbara area signed up to play in the spring.

“I was happy that SBUSD agreed to sit down with us,” said Pallad, who started the football league in Santa Barbara with his wife, Nevin. “We are just happy that these kids get to play this spring.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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