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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL REPORT

Schools Forfeiting Wins at 13

October 31, 2002|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Forfeits can change the complexion of a season. Just ask San Bernardino Aquinas Coach Josh Henderson, whose Falcons recently had to forfeit all five victories for using an ineligible player.

Aquinas, which last week appeared to be a shoo-in for the Southern Section Division XII playoffs, is 0-7 and destined not to make it into the postseason at home.

Forfeits can be nothing more than a minor nuisance. Just ask San Clemente Coach Eric Patton, whose Tritons defeated Huntington Beach Edison in their season opener only to learn more than a month later that they would have to forfeit the victory for failing to submit paperwork regarding a 14-year-old player. Even with the forfeit loss, San Clemente is on track for a playoff-qualifying finish in the South Coast League and a decent draw in the playoffs.

Thirteen schools have forfeited football victories this season for violations ranging from illegal transfers to administrative errors. While that figure represents an increase from last year, it is not unusually high, said Thom Simmons, the section's media relations director.

"There's quite a few new athletic directors this year, and there's a learning curve there," Simmons said. "Plus there's more rules and regulations and paperwork that people need to file than there was 10 years ago."

Simmons said his office has fielded several calls from upset coaches and administrators who say the forfeits needlessly harm their players because, in many cases, they are the result of an adult's oversight. Simmons said he reminds them that his office enforces the rules and that they can appeal to their league representative to amend the regulations through the section council, which serves as the legislative body for 537 schools.

Forfeits are problematic when they occur during league play, which determines playoff entrants. A forfeit that knocked a team from third to fourth place in a six-team league might determine if it makes the playoffs.

Forfeits can also affect at-large playoff entries. A team that fails to receive one of its league's automatic playoff entries must hope for an at-large bid. But if a nonleague forfeit causes a team's overall record to fall below .500, it would be ineligible to compete in the playoffs.

While San Clemente's forfeit probably won't keep it out of the playoffs, Patton acknowledged that "it's a blemish on our season. If anything, it makes the people who manage the football team more conscious of some of the little things. We will check our records more closely and follow the procedures next time."

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Anaheim Katella is showing what a little devotion can do for an under-performing program.

The Knights are 7-0 for the first time in school history, Coach Dominik Unger said, because their seniors and juniors showed a renewed commitment to staying in shape during the off-season. Players who wrestled and ran track still made time to lift weights, and those who didn't made sure they ran and lifted on their own.

"This is the most dedicated group I've had," said the sixth-year coach. "Their dedication to physical strength and quickness is paying off."

Katella has five offensive linemen who squat more than 400 pounds. The speedy defense has 20 interceptions and defensive lineman Jose Herrera has set a single-season school record with 15 sacks. Not bad for a team that last won a league title in 1968 and has never won a section title.

The Knights, one of 19 section teams to start 7-0, could hang an Empire League championship banner in the school gym if they win their final three regular-season games, including a game against Orange Lutheran (5-2, 2-0) at 7 tonight at Brea Olinda.

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Santa Margarita running back Ashton White and linebacker Dustin Slinkard are questionable for the Eagles' Serra League game against Los Angeles Loyola on Saturday at Glendale High.

White, who needs 812 yards to become Santa Margarita's all-time leading rusher, continues to be hobbled by a knee injury. Slinkard, who has 64 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, might not play for a second consecutive week because of a hand injury.

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Ribet Academy officials say the Fighting Frogs' 28-0 San Joaquin League football loss to Anaheim Fairmont Prep should not have been stopped in the fourth quarter despite several unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, the ejection of an assistant coach and a parent's removal from school grounds.

The Fighting Frogs, who are 0-6 and have scored six points all season, had one of their more competitive efforts last Friday against Fairmont. The game's head referee, Chris McNeese, stopped the contest with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter after Ribet Coach Omar Smalley and his assistants questioned the use of a running clock.

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