Nate Harris has never seen anything like it.
During the second day of practice last month, the new West Campus football coach suddenly found himself without two scheduled games for the upcoming season.
First, Harris discovered that the verbal commitment he had made with the former coach-athletic director at Fresno Christian to play the private-school team in Fresno wasn't going to be honored.
Then, 15 minutes later, he got a call from an assistant coach at Woodland Poly, a second-year charter school, who told Harris the Buffaloes would be unable to play the Warriors on Sept. 8 at Burbank High School. (Woodland Poly is playing an abbreviated five-game season starting Sept. 22, according to coach Steve Marks Jr.)
"I was as mad as a pit bull with no teeth," said the folksy Harris, an area coaching veteran who also has coached at Highlands, Sacramento and Kennedy.
Harris was able to scramble and schedule Skyline of Oakland for a home game on Sept. 29. But he had his fingers crossed the entire drive to Oakland last Friday to scout Skyline in its game against Granada of Livermore.
Skyline's coach told the Oakland Tribune several days earlier that its season might be in jeopardy after forfeiting the Aug. 31 opener to Acalanes of Lafayette because only 13 of his players were eligible.
A new, more stringent academic policy in the Oakland Athletic League is taking a toll and not just at Skyline.
Castlemont also canceled its varsity and junior varsity games Friday against Vista del Lago at Folsom High School, a hit that Vista coach Chris Jones says will cost his program $7,000 in gate revenue.
But on Friday, Skyline played Granada and lost 28-0.
Harris figures West Campus, which snapped a 28-game losing streak in its season opener Aug. 24, should play nine games this season, despite being in the midst of a 22-day break between games.
Neutral observer Placer coach Joey Montoya watched most of Saturday's Football for Families showcase game between Casa Roble and Fruitland of Idaho in the south end zone at Oak Ridge High School.
"It's tough," Montoya said. "You want to root for a team from your section, but we have a great friendship with Fruitland. So that's why I'm standing here. I'm Switzerland right now."
Montoya got to know Fruitland coach Bruce Schlaich while working a football camp in the Idaho community this summer. Like Placer, Fruitland runs a wing-T offense.
Montoya is considering taking the Hillmen, who beat Foothill of Palo Cedro on Friday at Oak Ridge, to Idaho next fall for a possible showcase event in Boise.
His No. 8 Hillmen (2-0) meet Casa Roble (1-2), which lost 29-22 to Fruitland, this Friday in Auburn in their annual nonleague rivalry that has become a down-to-the-wire battle in recent years.
Casa Roble won 61-58 last season and 41-33 in 2010; Placer won in 2009, 31-30.
Carrying his weight Sacramento High's three-year starter Ian Howerton will be a busy guy this weekend.
The senior captain will lead the Dragons against River City in West Sacramento this Friday night, then hop a flight Saturday morning for Eastern Europe.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Howerton will compete in the International Weightlifting Federation Youth World Championships in Kosice, Slovakia.
Howerton's strong play at tackle along with that of quarterback Josiah Johnson and running back Louis Macklin helped the Dragons to beat Foothill of North Highlands 48-18 last Friday.
Big run Encina running back Maurice Campbell tied state and national records last Saturday when he scored a 99-yard touchdown run in the Bulldogs' 32-2 win over Kennedy at El Camino.