Counting Numbers In State’s Counties

Players from San Rafael High (left) participate in football conditioning drill last week and could be practicing in pads by Friday of this week based on Marin County’s adjusted COVID case rate. At right is the state county map as of Feb. 23 which shows six more counties in the red tier. Photos: &

Tuesdays have been when the California Department of Public Health updates its county map with its colored tiers, but this week it took on added significance as high school athletic leaders also checked to see if case rates for COVID-19 had reached 14 or lower per 100,000. Based on last Friday’s health guidelines update, that’s the total that if a county got there this week that on Friday of this week high school football practices could conceivably begin. We have each county listed in this post with other facts and figures related to high school sports for each one.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on We now know we’ll be getting back to covering actual accomplishments by players, teams and coaches on the field, some as early as mid-March. To check out getting a Gold Club membership to see all of our state record updates (five sports), totally authentic historical features, recruiting ratings and more, CLICK HERE.

(School districts can still opt to not start playing sports at the same time as CDPH guidelines say that they can. We know of several in the state that have already cancelled season 1 or fall sports for this school year, including football. Each county listed with its adjusted case rate per day or tier assignment as of Tuesday, Feb. 23.)

Alameda – 9.5 (can start practice on Friday). CIF North Coast Section & CIF Oakland Section. 17 school districts in the East Bay Area of San Francisco. Schools in Oakland Unified are in the CIF Oakland Section. Borders Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, possibly Stanislaus counties.

Alpine – No high school in smallest county of state. Students in rural area of Sierra Mountains usually travel to South Tahoe or Douglas County in Nevada).

State’s color-tiered map as of February 16, 2021. Photo:

Amador – 11.5 (can start practice Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Two high schools. Borders Calaveras, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Alpine, El Dorado counties.

Butte – 9.5 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. 90 public schools (high schools in Chico, Oroville, nearby smaller towns). Area includes Paradise (devastated by 2018 Camp Fire). Borders Plumas, Yuba, Sierra, Tehama, Glenn, Colusa and Sutter counties.

Calaveras – 9.4 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Two high schools (Bret Harte of Altaville & Calaveras of San Andreas). Borders San Joaquin, Calaveras, Amador, Tuolomne, and Alpine counties.

Colusa – 29.7 (high number and not close for football). CIF Northern Section. High schools in Maxwell, Arbuckle (Pierce) and Colusa. Borders Sutter, Butte, Glenn, Lake and Yolo counties.

Contra Costa – 12.5 (can start practice on Friday). CIF North Coast Section. 18 school districts also in the East Bay of S.F. (including Liberty Union HS District & Acalanes Union HS District). Parochial powerhouse De La Salle of Concord also is in this county. Borders Alameda, San Joaquin, Marin (across bridge), Solano and Sacramento counties.

Del Norte – 14.5 (close but not there yet for football, which is confusing because the county also is in the red and not the purple for reopening). Located in far northwest corner of state. Del Norte High (Crescent City) biggest school. CIF North Coast Section. Borders Humboldt and Siskiyou County.

El Dorado – 10.3 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Schools in El Dorado Hills, Placerville and up Highway 50 to Lake Tahoe (but schools there in Nevada state association). Borders Sacramento, Placer, Amador and Alpine counties.

Fresno – 16.6 (not there yet so at least one more week of waiting). CIF Central Section. Home of Clovis Unified as well as Fresno Unified. Borders Merced, Madera, San Benito, Monterey, Kings, Tulare, Inyo and Mono counties.

Glenn – 12.7 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Towns of Willows, Orland, Hamilton City. Borders Tehama, Butte, Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties.

Humboldt – 6.3 (can start practice on Friday). CIF North Coast Section. Includes communities of Eureka, Arcata and Ferndale (westernmost school in state). Borders Del Norte, Trinity, Siskiyou and Mendocino counties.
Imperial – 8.9 (can practice on Friday but really encouraging to see such a low number for a county that’s been hit hard). CIF San Diego Section. El Centro, Brawley, Imperial and Calexico schools. Borders Riverside and San Diego counties.

Inyo – 46.5 (that’s the number reported by CDPH). CIF Central Section. Biggest school is Bishop. Others very small. Borders Mono, Fresno, Tulare, Kern and San Bernardino counties.

Here’s view from atop press box at venerable Griffith Field as the Bakersfield High team runs through banner prior to second half of game vs. Sierra Canyon in 2018. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Kern – 16.8 (not there yet for football to start). CIF Central Section. Bakersfield area high schools and most in large Kern High School District.

Kings – 25.1 (may be two weeks away for football there). CIF Central Section. Hanford & Lemoore communities. Borders Fresno, Tulare, Kern, Monterey and possibly San Luis Obispo.

Lake – 15.4 (close so probably another week to go). CIF North Coast Section. Small schools such as Middletown, Lower Lake, Clear Lake, etc. and we know some of them already have decided not to play football this spring. Borders Colusa, Yolo, Glenn, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

Lassen – 4.8 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Lassen High of Susanville is largest. Smaller ones in Westwood, Herlong, Bieber. Borders Modoc, Shasta and Plumas counties.

Los Angeles – 12.3 (new case rate of 16.5 wouldn’t make it but adjusted case rate sure does). CIF L.A. City Section & CIF Southern Section. All schools in the massive L.A. Unified School District (public) are in the L.A. City Section. Private schools in the county are in the Southern Section plus other public schools outside of L.A. City (Long Beach, Torrance, Covina, etc.). Borders Ventura, Kern, Orange and San Bernardino counties (but not Riverside).

Madera – 13.6 (only county within CIF Central Section that is below 14). Madera, Chowchilla and other valley towns are in it. Borders Merced, Fresno, Mariposa, Mono and a tip of Tuolomne.

Marin – 7.4 (can start practice on Friday). Includes schools from San Rafael, Novato and Larkspur. CIF North Coast Section. Borders Sonoma, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties (across two bridges).

Serra of Gardena (L.A. County) head coach Scott Altenberg shows off an Honor Bowl trophy after team defeated Serra of San Mateo in 2018. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Mariposa – 5.6 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Mariposa High is county’s only high school. Borders Tuolomne, Madera, Merced and tip of Stanislaus counties.

Mendocino – 16.8 (too high and must wait at least another week for football practice). CIF North Coast Section. High school in county seat (Ukiah) is largest one. Borders Sonoma, Lake, Humboldt, Glenn, Tehama and Trinity counties.

Merced – 19.5 (good week needed for it to get down to 14). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section (but also strongly connected to Central Section since Merced TV market is Fresno). Borders Fresno, Madera, Stanislaus, Mariposa, San Benito, Santa Clara and possibly tip of Tuolomne.

Modoc – 6.0 (good to go for football practice to start on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Only high school is Modoc High (Alturas). Borders Siskiyou, Shasta and Lassen counties.

Mono – The few schools in this rural county on eastern side of Sierra Nevada mountains (including Mammoth of Mammoth Lakes) play in Nevada state association.

Monterey – 18.4 (needs at least another week to get eligible). CIF Central Coast Section. Schools in Salinas, Monterey, Seaside and resort towns Pacific Grove and Carmel are included. Borders Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Kings, Fresno and possibly tip of Kern County.

Napa – 6.8 (can start practice on Friday). CIF North Coast Section (some previously were in Sac-Joaquin). Schools in Napa Valley up through Calistoga are included. Borders Sonoma, Lake, Yolo and Solano counties (but not Marin).

Nevada – 11.3 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Hometown of Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis is Grass Valley. Nevada Union and Bear River high schools. Borders Placer, Sierra and Yuba counties.

Orange – 11.9 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Southern Section. There are 12 unified school districts and three high school districts in the world-famous county (home of Disneyland). Borders San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside and slice of San Bernardino County.

Some Del Oro of Loomis fans over the years have been known to get pumped up for their team. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Placer – 10.3 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Sierra Foothills county includes schools in Roseville, Auburn, Granite Bay, Loomis and Colfax. Borders Sacramento, Nevada, El Dorado, Sutter and perhaps tip of Yuba County.

Plumas – 4.5 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Small towns Quincy, Portola, Chester, Greenville. Borders Butte, Lassen, Sierra, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba counties.

Riverside – 16.6 (still needs another week to probably get to 14 or lower). CIF Southern Section. Heart of the Inland Empire with San Bernardino and rapidly growing over the past 20 years in places like Corona, Murrieta and Temecula. Borders San Bernardino, Orange, Imperial and San Diego counties (but not Los Angeles).

Sacramento – 15.3 (close but can’t yet start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. County of the capital city plus neighboring suburbs Elk Grove, Carmichael, etc., and going down the Sacramento River to the Delta. Borders San Joaquin, Yolo, Contra Costa, Amador, Placer, El Dorado, Sutter and Solano counties.

San Benito – 17.2 (not yet ready to start practice on Friday). Schools in Hollister (Haybalers) and San Juan Bautista. CIF Central Coast Section. Borders Monterey, Fresno, Merced, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

San Bernardino – 15.2 (not yet ready to start practice on Friday). The largest county by land space in the continental U.S. (outside Alaska). Schools in large cities such as San Bernardino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and Victorville. One of CIF Southern Section. Borders Los Angeles, Riverside, Kern, Orange and Inyo counties.

San Diego – 15.0 (still another week needed for football practices according to the data except there’s also a judge who has ordered that schools allow games to restart in indoor and outdoor sports). CIF San Diego Section. Section commissioner Joe Heinz said Tuesday that schools in the section could all start practicing on Friday. Borders Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties.

San Francisco – 5.2 (can start practice on Friday). Public schools in CIF San Francisco Section (S.F. Unified). Large private schools (St. Ignatius, Riordan, Sacred Heart Cathedral) in CIF Central Coast Section. Some of smaller private schools in CIF North Coast Section. Can easily see privates playing and publics not playing in S.F. Borders Marin and Alameda counties (over bridges) and San Mateo County to south.

San Joaquin – 17.1 (not there yet for official football practices to start). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Home county for Cal-Hi Sports (Stockton). Schools from Lodi, Manteca and Tracy included. Borders Sacramento, Contra Costa, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Amador, Alameda and tip of Santa Clara County.

San Luis Obispo – 9.4 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Central Section (used to be CIF Southern Section). In addition to city of San Luis Obispo, schools also from Paso Robles, Atascadero and Arroyo Grande. Borders Monterey, Santa Barbara, Kern plus tiny slices of Kings and Ventura counties.

Mike Machado is the longtime head coach at Valley Christian (San Jose). Photo: Mark Tennis.

San Mateo – 5.6 (can start practice on Friday). Includes schools along the San Francisco Peninsula including those from cities of San Mateo, Pacifica, Daly City, Atherton, Half Moon Bay (on the coast) and Redwood City. CIF Central Coast Section. Borders San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Alameda counties (Alameda across bridge).

Santa Barbara – 16.9 (still needs time to be okayed for football practices to begin). CIF Southern Section. Lompoc and Santa Maria also are in Santa Barbara County. Borders Ventura, Kern and San Luis Obispo counties.

Santa Clara – 6.7 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Central Coast Section. Schools from San Jose, Gilroy, Palo Alto and others in between. County department of public health didn’t say for sure it was going to go along with new state guidelines for youth sports until Monday. Borders San Mateo, San Benito, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Merced and tip of San Joaquin county.

Santa Cruz – 8.6 (can start practice on Friday). Aptos, Watsonville and Felton are additional towns in this county. CIF Central Coast Section. Borders Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito and San Mateo counties.

Shasta – 10.0 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Schools in Redding are the most known in this county. Borders Tehama, Modoc, Siskiyou, Trinity, Plumas and Lassen counties.

Sierra – 0.0 (same grade point average of Senator Blutarski from Animal House). CIF Northern Section. Also very small like Alpine, but there is one high school (Loyalton). Unreported if Loyalton is playing. Borders Plumas, Lassen, Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties.

Siskiyou – 7.8 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. Always think of Yreka grad Chace Bryson of SportStars Magazine for this county. Far northern county borders Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta and Modoc counties.

Solano – 12.3 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section & CIF North Coast Section. Essentially it’s Fairfield & Vacaville in the SJS with Vallejo & Benicia in the NCS. Vallejo & Benicia previously were in SJS. Borders Sacramento, Napa, Yolo and Contra Costa counties.

Sonoma – 14.0 (right on the button so can start practice on Friday). CIF North Coast Section. This county covers the schools in Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg and is considered the heart of the Redwood Empire. Borders Napa, Lake, Marin and Mendocino counties.

Stanislaus – 20.8 (not there yet for football practices to begin). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. City of Modesto is dominant in this county. Turlock and other small towns like Oakdale also have great football traditions. Borders San Joaquin, Calaveras, Merced, Mariposa, Tuolomne, Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Nate Bennett shows intensity for Grace Brethren (Ventura County) during 2019 season. Photo:

Sutter – 14.7 (should get down below 14.0 by next week or sooner). CIF Northern Section & CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Largest schools Yuba City & River Valley of Yuba City in SJS. Smaller schools (example East Nicolaus) in Northern. Sutter High is moving to Sac-Joaquin in 2022. Borders Sacramento, Yuba, Yolo, Glenn, Colusa, Placer and Butte counties.

Tehama – 14.1 (just off the 14.0 rate to start practicing). Includes Red Bluff and Corning. CIF Northern Section. Borders Shasta, Glenn, Butte, Plumas, Trinity and Mendocino counties.

Trinity – 7.5 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Northern Section. We once went to Weaverville to present Trinity High football players some awards for being Class B state team of the year. Borders Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Tulare – 18.2 (needs to drop by 4.2 by next Tuesday to start on the following Friday). CIF Central Section. County seat is in Tulare, but nearby Visalia is larger city. Borders Fresno, Inyo, Kern and Kings counties.

Tuolomne – 10.9 (can start practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. Sonora High and Summerville High of Tuolomne are the biggest schools. Borders Alpine, Mono, Madera, Mariposa, Stanislaus and Calaveras counties (possibly touches Merced in one corner).

Ventura – 16.9 (not there yet but locals expect to be below 14.0 by next week). CIF Southern Section. The county has high schools from four cities above 100,000 in population: Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Ventura. Borders Los Angeles, Kern, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Yolo – 11.1 (good to go for Friday and also moved from purple to red for reopening). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section & CIF Northern Section. Davis, Woodland & River City (West Sacramento) in SJS. Smaller schools Winters, Esparto in Northern. Small school Delta (Clarksburg) in SJS. Borders Sacramento, Solano, Napa, Sutter, Colusa and Lake counties.

Yuba – 15.1 (not eligible yet for football practice on Friday). CIF Sac-Joaquin Section & CIF Northern Section. While Yuba City is in Sutter County, Marysville is Yuba County. Marysville & Lindhurst (Olivehurst) in SJS. Wheatland is in Northern Section. Borders Sutter, Plumas, Placer, Butte, Sierra and Nevada counties.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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