Early in the fourth quarter of Friday's Daily News all-star football game, an official was asked if the action was, shall we say, getting a little bit out of hand?
"These types of games are always rough," he replied, just moments after Harvard High's Cory Thabit and Granada Hills' Marc Newman had duked it out.
If all-star games always deteriorate to the level of Friday night's game at Pierce College, then let's hear it for no all-star games.
A little harsh, you say? Well, Friday's game bordered on the ridiculous. The first half was relatively tame, with neither the West nor East scoring.
The second half didn't offer much in the way of offense, either, though the East did score twice to post a 14-0 win. The action that most captivated the crowd of 5,500 was the stuff the players participated in after the plays ended.
The West had the ball at its 31 late in the third quarter when quarterback Dan Nagelmann threw an incomplete pass. Away from the play, Thabit and Newman started fighting.
Quick action by the coaching staffs and the officials kept the two-man battle from becoming a battle royal.
With 4:33 left in the game, Alemany linebacker Larry Muir intercepted a Nagelmann pass and returned it 41 yards for the East's final score. Seconds after the conversion, Granada Hills' Barry Daniels and Alemany's Hugo Correa took center stage on the fight card.
Again, no bigger brawl broke out, but the good spirit that is supposed to be part of an all-star game had disappeared.
For the rest of the game, the officials spent as much time stepping in the way of potential combatants as they did setting the ball.
OK, you're saying, every football game is going to have its skirmishes. But this many for an all-star game?
"The kids just started losing their tempers," said Alemany Coach Enrique Lopez, co-coach of the East team. "You get kids from a lot of different schools and they all have different types of disciplines."
Lopez admitted his disappointment in the extra-curricular activities. "Abusiveness was getting mixed up with aggressiveness," he said.
Daniels was also displeased.
"That's the first time I've ever been kicked out of a game, lost my control like that," he said. "There were just so many cheap shots out there. The refs weren't calling anything."
Daniels said he was kicked in the mouth, and that got the fight started. Correa said he wasn't the one doing the kicking.
Some players didn't seem to mind the rough stuff.
Said St. Francis' Jay Carballo, who had two interceptions for the East: "I kind of liked it. It got the guys fired up. I had a few cheap shots myself. But I had a reason because their guys were hitting my other defensive backs."
Said Taft Coach Tom Stevenson, one of the West coaches: "It's part of football. I don't like it. But nothing happened. They were just a bunch of chicken fighters out there."
Most of the players were willing to forget afterward.
"It was supposed to be a nice game," Canyon's Dio Shipp, a linebacker for the East, said, "but when we got out there, everybody hated each other. Now, after the game, we're all friends again."