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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Robbing Alemany to Save St. Paul

October 29, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER

What ranks as the more troubling ethical lapse, running back De'Andre Scott abandoning his Alemany High teammates in the seventh week of the season, or St. Paul allowing Scott to transfer and play immediately?

St. Paul's decision is worse. This is a Catholic school that prides itself on teaching positive values and ethics to its students, but the Swordsmen have chosen to ignore the obvious attempt by Scott and his advisors to circumvent Southern Section rules.

It's too bad Scott's transfer didn't happen a couple weeks earlier, because the folly of the situation would have been demonstrated in Scott getting to play against Servite twice in the same season while representing different schools.

It's going to be bad enough on Friday night when Alemany plays at St. Paul and Scott is on the field in a St. Paul uniform trying to run against players who were his teammates a few weeks ago.

It's like playing in the NFL and being traded.

"We should have gotten 10 players in the trade," defensive coordinator Joe Fama said.

Sportswriters are supposed to maintain their neutrality when covering high school games, but not this week.

If Alemany Coach Craig Schuler needs someone to deliver a pep talk, give me a call.

This is a game that screams out for the good guys to win, and Alemany's players are definitely wearing the white hats. The Indians have stuck together during trying times. The same can't be said of Scott.

Scott is a nice person who was apparently stressed out and frustrated with his lack of success this season. So he left Alemany on Oct. 17, changed residences and was accepted at St. Paul.

It's legal, but that doesn't make it right.

"If Bo Jackson, in his prime, walked in here and said, 'Coach, I just moved in, can I play?' I'd tell him, 'Well, Bo, I love you, but you'll have to wait till next year,' " Schuler said.

"We have guys on the team who have already been through spring and summer conditioning and seven games of the season. How can you allow a kid to come in the seventh week of the season?"

Alemany isn't exactly unblemished in transfer controversy. Two seasons ago, the Indians allowed three San Fernando basketball players to transfer to their school en masse so they could play for their former club coach.

It brings to mind the saying, "What goes around, comes around."

It would be inspiring if one day, a valiant coach decided to stand up to all the shenanigans and show loyalty to his players by telling the transfer student, "It's too late, go somewhere else."

But that's not going to happen. Few coaches would have turned down the chance to have Scott on their team this season, even if it were in the seventh week.

The simple truth is winning matters, and Scott can help St. Paul win.

In his debut against Bishop Amat on Thursday night, Scott rushed for 185 yards and scored one touchdown in a 31-3 victory. St. Paul players were fawning over him as if he were a savior. They were giddy and seemed undisturbed by the ramifications of his arrival.

Scott should be grateful he'll be facing his former teammates and not Alemany alumni, for they are in no mood for forgiveness.

"Perhaps De'Andre is merely the spoiled child who never found himself and will disappear like so many others who had greatness but could not handle the stress," writes one angry Alemany alumnus.

Schuler is considering his options for the game.

"It's pretty unique," he said. "I don't know if anyone knows how to approach it. It's a tough situation all the way around. I feel bad for [De'Andre] because he's taking a lot of heat and he's just a kid."

Everyone should remember it's just another football game and no matter which team wins, life goes on.

But if Alemany were to pull off the upset, what a sweet victory it would be for a group of players who refused to quit on their school or team, unlike Scott.

*

Two weeks ago, California fans and players carried quarterback Kyle Boller on their shoulders after the Bears' 46-38 triple overtime victory over UCLA in Berkeley.

If Boller could have received enough field passes for dozens of friends, family members and Hart High players who showed up Saturday night at the Coliseum, they would have gladly given him another lift after the Bears' 28-16 victory over USC.

There's nothing more satisfying for Boller than to defeat the two college teams from Los Angeles. He's 4-0 against USC and UCLA in two years at California, making him truly an L.A. Slayer.

"It's awesome," he said. "To beat those schools being from down here, it's hard to explain. I hope we can continue it next year."

Boller never wanted to leave the area, but UCLA didn't offer him a scholarship out of Hart in 1999 and USC had Carson Palmer, so the Trojans weren't an option. He's having too much fun anyway making the L.A. schools squirm for letting him get away.

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