SportStars Magazine

Forfeit Philosophy: When Not Playing Is The Right Call

It usually doesn’t take long for forfeits to rear their ugly head each football season and we had two very different ones in Northern California to start 2017. One of them, in fact, could be called “a good one.”

That forfeit was the one that Brookside Christian-Stockton offered up and was accepted by Milpitas for a scheduled game on Sept. 8 between the Knights and Trojans. It seemed as if Brookside was going to be in trouble playing Milpitas this season after the opening week when it lost 80-46 to Rio Vista while Milpitas, considered one of the Top 10 teams in the Bay Area this season, won its first game 62-0 over American-Fremont.

Then in the team’s second game, Brookside Christian lost 70-0 to Fremont-Oakland and a “couple of key linemen were injured,” according to athletic director Ron Ayers. “For the safety of the others still playing, we had to forfeit and Milpitas agreed.”

The game had initially been scheduled when former head coach Jordan McGowan was at Brookside and had openly talked about trying to build up a program to compete at the highest levels. After McGowan’s departure last spring, several players expected to be standouts on this year’s team at Brookside — especially quarterback Quincy Glasper and junior linebacker Jalen Williams — transferred out as well. That left new head coach Mike Huber and those still around in more of a rebuilding mode.

What made matters more tricky for Milpitas is that its scheduled game the previous weekend at Dublin was cancelled due to severe heat and poor air quality. Head coach Kelly King really didn’t want to have his team without a game for two weeks, but it didn’t take long for Berkeley to emerge as a possible opponent. The Yellowjackets were supposed to be on their bye week, but also had their game the previous weekend cancelled and also didn’t want to be off for two weeks.

It all basically worked out for all parties involved with the Brookside Christian forfeit, but the forfeit that Terra Nova-Pacifica took for its first game against Gunderson-San Jose was more of a mess.

That one came about when Terra Nova players and those from Moreau Catholic-Hayward got into a scuffle during a preseason scrimmage one week before season openers. Players from both teams came off the sideline area to get involved, according to newspaper reports.

If that fight had taken place during a regular-season game, then the consequences for both schools would have been the same — a likely forfeit of the next game with that many players having to sit out a one-game suspension. But in this case it was at a scrimmage, and since Terra Nova is part of the CIF Central Coast Section while Moreau Catholic is part of the CIF North Coast Section, different rules applied. In the CCS, it doesn’t matter in its bylaws if ejections occur in a scrimmage. But in the NCS, a scrimmage does not apply.

Terra Nova officials could have perhaps not taken a forfeit by sitting out one half of the team against Gunderson and then the other half the following week, but principal Megan Carey decided to take the forfeit after meeting with CCS commissioner Duane Morgan and league commissioner Terry Stogner.

“She made her decision based on she was at the game,” Morgan told the San Jose Mercury News. “She saw what went on. She, bottom line, stood up and did the appropriate thing and forfeited the game. Every section has a little bit different nuance. Our board says whenever you are going to compete against another team, you have to follow the rules.”

There are also rules about how forfeits are handled in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book. They essentially don’t count. Only on-the-field results count, but with an asterisk added to explain the forfeits. After its win on the field against Berkeley on Sept. 9, for example, Milpitas was listed at 2-0 with an asterisk and not 3-0. Handling forfeits in that fashion is just the way the record book was set up many, many years ago by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis. Doing it any other way would require going through all of the many state record lists and changing all of them to reflect forfeit wins and losses.

Many may not agree with how we report on forfeits, but one thing’s for sure: It’s the same for every school in the state and nuances from each CIF section don’t matter at all.  

Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at markjtennis@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @CalHiSports

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