CHICO, Calif. - For the first time in almost a year Butte County football players are putting on their pads.
Under new guidance from the California Public Health Department, contact sports like football, baseball, softball, and soccer are allowed to compete when their counties are in the purple and red tiers.
Action News Now reporter Amy Lanski spoke to coaches from Chico and Pleasant Valley to find out what this means to their players.
"I don't think I have ever been so excited for a season to start, said Chico High varsity football coach Jason Alvistur.
"I have been feeling really bad for the seniors to have last year junior year and this year this senior year with the way it has gone," he added. "I think we can end their senior year with some normalcy, something real, something tangible they can do, and they can walk out of high school saying I got that."
Alvistur explained the contact sports can only happen if a county’s case rate is at or under 14 per 100,000. He was thrilled to spend the last week handing out gear to his players.
He explained they had been having "no contact" practices for months, but added that he saw a difference in his players' excitement once they were fully padded up, knowing they have games in sight.
"They just brightened up," he said. "They are flying around. They are working hard. The enthusiasm was fantastic."
"Last night was so fun to see all that come out of them," said Alvistur.
The Chico High coach said they are going to have to conduct testing and still follow other protocols, but explained that the district has been helpful in figuring these processes out.
One soccer and football star told Action News Now that he can't wait to get back on the field in competition.
"We are excited to be back on the field - especially for those seniors that were doubtful to play this year, junior kicker Cesar Moreno explained. "I am really happy for them and I cannot wait to play this year," he added.
Pleasant Valley head coach Mark Cooley said the same thing.
"It was fantastic. Just to see the excitement on the kids' faces, to see them hooting and hollering and jumping around," explained Cooley.
"I got a report from one parent about how excited their kid was last night. He had his helmet on all day," he explained, saying this has been really fun.
Both coaches say that they are allowed to have immediate family members at games in the stands, but said they are still trying to figure out who exactly that includes.
Pleasant Valley is scheduled to have its first scrimmage on March 13, and its first game on April 2.
Chico High School is planning their first scrimmage on March 19 and their first game on March 26.
Both coaches say that now they are hoping indoor sports will be allowed to start up again soon.