High school football: Meeting set for Rio Americano players who quit to support teammate

Published: Sunday, Sep. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Sunday, Sep. 30, 2012 - 10:03 am

A meeting of the administration, coaching staff and parents of 12 seniors no longer on the Rio Americano football team is scheduled for Monday evening in the school library.

The seniors, including Mark Lyon, a star quarterback-linebacker, turned in their gear Thursday in protest after Rio Americano coach Christian Mahaffey wouldn't reinstate senior wide receiver-defensive end Guillermo Salazar, a three-sport standout at the school.

Salazar was forced to quit the team Tuesday when he informed Mahaffey he would miss the Raiders' Oct. 13 home game against Whitney to attend a weekend baseball showcase in Arizona.

Salazar, who also plays basketball, is a highly recruited baseball player.

Mahaffey said Salazar couldn't remain on the team if he was going to miss a Saturday Capital Athletic League game to attend an out-of-season event.

Parents hope Monday's meeting will lead to the players, 10 of whom were starters, being able to rejoin the team.

"Some of the boys have been together for four years and are very close to Guillermo," said Erin Lyon, the Raiders' team mom and Mark's mother. "They knew for a long time that he had this (baseball) commitment, so it was like, 'We play, if he plays.' "

"I don't think it was handled well by the boys or the coach. Both sides could have approached this differently."

Mahaffey said he gave the protesting players a day to think about their decision after meeting with them Wednesday. He said they turned in their gear the next day.

"It all surprises me," Mahaffey said. "I was hopeful the guys would come back. But we were prepared if it didn't happen."

Mahaffey said the situation has driven such a wedge between the players who have left and those who remain that he believes it can't be repaired with a meeting.

"At this point, it is too late," Mahaffey said. "It's done. The kids that are going to play the next five games are the 21 we still have on our team."

"It will be bare bones. But the kids we have now are very united."

Mahaffey said he has no plans to move players up from the junior varsity.

The team practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with two seniors, 17 juniors and two sophomores.

Rio Americano had a bye this weekend. The Raiders open league play Friday at Cordova.

Toeing the line – As a former high school and college quarterback, Kirk Anderson spent most of his career coaching skill players.

But the first-year Mira Loma coach has focused most of his attention these days coaching up the offensive and defensive lines.

"I've done skill stuff my entire life," Anderson said. "But if you don't have a line, you can't do anything."

Anderson is fortunate to have a smart and experienced quarterback in senior Wes Van Der Mik.

"At times, I'll let Wes run the practice while I take the O-line, and we get down and dirty," Anderson said. "It's really not fair to him, but he's accepted the role; he enjoys the role."

On-the-job training – New Foothill co-head coach Jesse Phillips admits working 2 1/2 seasons as an assistant coach isn't a lot of high school experience. But he learned much working the previous two seasons under Matt Ray at Antelope.

"It helps having that experience of being around a great program," Phillips said. "Matt taught me a lot."

Foothill won its first game Friday 33-27 over Natomas.

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