Gilroy head football coach Darren Yafai understands the pain the
Salinas High football team is feeling right now.
By Leann Shea
Gilroy head football coach Darren Yafai understands the pain the Salinas High football team is feeling right now.
The Cowboys found out Monday that they would have to forfeit all of their victories because of an ineligible player, dropping their record to 0-9, ending their playoff hopes and leaving a TCAL playoff picture still up for grabs going into the final week of play.
Two years ago, the Mustangs missed out on the playoffs because of a similar situation. In Gilroy’s case the school was missing transfer paperwork on one player.
“I think its horrible,” said Yafai. “Rules on having to forfeit games are for cheating and they did not cheat. Salinas High earned making the playoffs this year.”
Apparently the Cowboys player moved out of the Salinas High boundary with his family and didn’t file the necessary paperwork to maintain his eligibility. The violation was brought to the attention of Salinas administrators last Friday according to Salinas High vice principal Gina Uccelli in an interview with the Salinas Californian.
“It was really tough,” said Uccelli. “It’s devastating. It was very emotional. It was really, really difficult for everyone.”
The forfeits benefit Live Oak and San Benito who each gain another league win improving their records to 3-1 in the TCAL.
Gilroy, however, doesn’t fare as well since it upset Salinas last week, 24-19. The Mustangs’ record remains at 2-2 in league heading into Thursday’s final game against rival Live Oak.
Prior to Salinas’ forfeits, Gilroy would have had a good chance of making the playoffs even if they lost to Live Oak. Now if they lose, they are probably knocked out of the playoff picture.
“Now if we win (Thursday) we’re in. If we lose, we’re probably out because of the forfeit,” said Yafai. “We still control our own destiny.”
Although the Hay Balers benefit from Salinas’ forfeit, San Benito head football coach Chris Cameron can also relate to the Cowboys’ plight.
In 2000, the ‘Balers were forced to forfeit their first three games of the season because of a grades ineligible player.
“Its a horrible thing,” said Cameron. “When it happens to you, it’s like getting the wind knocked out of you. It totally takes the wind out of your sails. I really feel for the kids on the team and I have the utmost respect for the coaches at Salinas.”
San Benito faces the TCAL’s lone undefeated team in Palma on Thursday has an opportunity to make the playoffs win or lose.
“We have the opportunity to back into the playoffs,” said Cameron. “We’ve been given a second life and we’re going to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Live Oak is also in control of its own destiny. A win over Gilroy on Thursday and they are playoff-bound, a loss to Gilroy creates at least a two-way tie, depending on the outcome of the San Benito versus Palma game.