Officials from Long Beach Wilson and West Covina high schools said they hope the mutual decision for both schools to forfeit their games this week in the wake of Friday's fight sends the message that sportsmanship is more important than winning.
Principals from both schools met Wednesday morning with Southern Section Commissioner Jim Staunton to review videotape of the fight, which broke out in the fourth quarter after a West Covina receiver and a Wilson defensive back tussled downfield away from a play. Players from both teams poured onto the field and the game was called with about five minutes remaining and West Covina leading, 54-30.
The players who left the sideline violated a conduct rule that calls for offenders to be ejected and serve a one-game suspension. Videotape revealed that enough players from both teams were involved to merit the forfeiture of this week's games, though Staunton waived a portion of the rule that calls for players to serve their suspensions during a game that is actually played. That's because the teams otherwise wouldn't have enough eligible players to compete when their seasons resume next week.
"Forfeiting the games sends a message that neither the [California Interscholastic Federation] nor the schools will tolerate this kind of conduct," said Dick Vanderlaan, a spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District.
"The lesson is obviously that sportsmanship and character are No. 1 [priorities]," said Rob Wigod, the section's assistant commissioner who oversees football. "We want everyone to know that this kind of behavior and activity is unacceptable. If it means that games are forfeited and student-athletes are not going to be allowed to participate, so be it.
"We hope that what we have done will prevent it from happening again."
West Covina Principal Jim Coombs said the forfeiture will allow the students involved from his school to think about their behavior before returning to competition.
"The entire football program understands that what they do from this point on will make people understand this was a bad choice but not a bad habit," he said. Bulldog Coach Mike Maggiore punished his players immediately after the fight by making them run sprints while Wilson players boarded their team bus. Coombs said he later found the students "responsive" when he addressed them about sportsmanship.
Wigod said frustration might have contributed to the brawl. Before the fight, Wilson had turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, leading to three West Covina touchdowns. West Covina was scheduled to play Friday at Whittier California, while Wilson was scheduled to play at No. 21 Anaheim Servite. California and Servite will be awarded victories, though that won't necessarily take the sting out of having to call off the games.
California was supposed to crown its homecoming queen during halftime festivities . The postgame dance will be held, Athletic Director Nick Buehler said, but the school may wait until its next home game--Oct. 19 against Whittier La Serna--to crown its queen.
There was talk of Servite and California playing each other Friday, but officials from both schools said it was too late in the week to work out the logistics.
Ticket update: Three thousand general admission tickets were available for the Oct. 6 Long Beach Poly-Concord De La Salle game as of Wednesday morning, Poly Athletic Director Joe Carlson said. The $10 tickets will be on sale from 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at Poly High, 1600 Atlantic Ave. Carlson said additional tickets could be available at Veterans Stadium on game day if De La Salle fails to sell its allotment of 2,800 tickets.
Saturday night fever: Anaheim Esperanza wide receiver Robby Gingg will be out four to six weeks with a broken clavicle. Gingg fell on his shoulder Friday after making a catch in the Aztecs' 20-10 victory over Fallbrook. X-rays taken Saturday showed that Gingg had "chipped" his clavicle, Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said.
Gingg, who has 11 receptions in three games, worsened the injury Saturday night at a school dance.
"He was dancing and didn't have his arm in a sling like he was supposed to, and fractured it all the way through," Meek said. "He must be a heck of a dancer."
\o7 Staff writer Martin Henderson contributed to this story.\f7