Image and perception can stick and it can sting, and that’s what is happening within the Sacramento City Unified School District.
And it is not always fair.
Kennedy High School elected to forfeit Saturday’s game against No. 6 Sacramento in Oak Park due to district concerns of lingering after effects of what happened Sept. 15.
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In a great game otherwise devoid of drama in the stands or on the field between Sacramento and top-ranked Folsom at Hughes Stadium, two young fans decided they were not mature enough for the moment. They brawled in the stands, and an officer used pepper spray to break it up.
The entire scene “ruined it for all of us,” Sacramento coach Joe McCray said earlier this week once he learned of the Kennedy forfeit. He said what added to the angst was that neither person involved in the fight was affiliated with Sacramento High.
SCUSD spokesman Alex Barrios said any time there is the potential of fan endangerment, such as a roll-over revenge vibe, the district will act. He said Kennedy’s decision to forfeit – it’s not a cancellation – came after the SCUSD met with its own resource officers and all agreed that “outside influences” could pose more risk.
No one won here. Sacramento has a lot to play for in a season of promise. Kennedy is winless and struggling but the coaches and players said they wanted to play the game.
And this is not a city-school problem. I have witnessed fights in the stadium and parking lot at games in Carmichael, Davis, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove, Woodland and points between.
And fighting is not new to Hughes Stadium, either. It was common for scraps to break out in the stands in the 1980s when Metro League teams played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The rising cost of renting Hughes and securing security forced Burbank, Johnson, Kennedy and Sacramento to play Saturday home games on campus in the 1990s (Burbank and Kennedy in recent years received bond-issue money to build state-of-the-art stadiums).
And the lingering bad look?
“No, we don’t want to have that bad image,” Barrios said. “When it comes to safety, that’s going to drive decision making.”
As it stands now, Sacramento will host Florin on Sept. 30. To allow more forfeits would to allow the outside influences to win.
To the house – Isaah Crocker of No. 4 Inderkum on Friday against Pioneer returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, the second time this season the senior has taken a return that far.
Also on Friday, Joe Ngata of Folsom took a kickoff back 99 yards for a score against Woodcreek. Crocker and Ngata tied the national high school mark for longest kickoff returns as athletes at this level are not allowed to return kickoffs out of the end zone.
▪ Lonnie Trillo of Johnson and Donald Hair of McClatchy share the regional record for longest fumble returned for a touchdown at 99 yards. Trillo did it against Bishop Armstrong in 1964 and Hair against Davis in 1984. Earl Hanibal of since-closed Norte Del Rio has the area’s longest interception return for a score against Foothill in 1973, going 106 yards. Capital Christian’s Paul Roberson is second with a 105-yarder against Highlands in 2005.
Bye wounds – The bye week is ideal to rest and recover, and this includes Nate Otto.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Oak Ridge senior linebacker fast closing in on career tackling records, was glad to let digits heal.
“My couple broken fingers could use some rest before an intense run in the (Sierra Foothill League),” Otto said, adding the breaks came from the last game, against Reed of Nevada when he had 15 tackles, including two sacks in a 24-21 victory. “Nothing a little tape can’t fix.”
Otto also used the down time on the weekend to work on a recruiting film. He’s worth a peek, starting with his 4.3 GPA, 1470 SAT score and ability to lead and make plays.
And he has the endorsement of his coach, Eric Cavaliere, who said, “He is a gritty, tough worker who gets it done every day in practice. Nate takes every rep in practice, on our defense and on our scout defense. He is one of those guys who just loves to play football and can’t get enough.”
Foul fest – There’s a reason Elk Grove’s 52-31 triumph of Davis seemed to drag well into the night.
For teams that run a ton, they were uncharacteristically penalized a ton. Elk Grove had 235 yards of penalties and Davis 141.
Folsom factory – Folsom’s 55-14 victory over Woodcreek was the program’s 19th consecutive in Sierra Foothill League play since coming aboard via realignment before the 2014 season, and it also marked another milestone.
The Bulldogs since the start of the 2010 season have won 100 games, averaging 14 a season. Folsom has nine losses this decade, including two to national power De La Salle in NorCal Open Division title games, one to Bellarmine of San Jose in a NorCal championship and last season to St. Mary’s in the section Division I finals, the seventh consecutive season Folsom reached a section final.
Folsom has seven league, five section and two CIF State banners this decade. The SFL streak will be tested Friday at No. 2 Granite Bay.