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Cary Osborne: The Canyon blame game stops here

Posted: November 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

When Canyon High head football coach/athletic director Rich Gutierrez was asked Tuesday who was to blame for the mess that caused Canyon High to lose its share of the Foothill League title, he said there were “a multitude of people.”

Then he thought for a second and said, “Blame me.”

A lot of people already have.

And then a lot of those people blamed an innocent kid.

And a lot of people blamed Golden Valley High’s head football coach and principal.

A lot of those people obviously have never made a mistake in their lives.

And there are some people who obviously don’t care about facts and will make a scapegoat out of a kid who had no control over a situation.

And a lot of those people don’t believe in rules.

A young man transferred to Canyon High School before the school year from Golden Valley High, as his mother has told The Signal, because school boundaries changed. Those new boundaries made it easier for this family to get its kids to school on time if the older child went to Canyon High. The younger boy is now slated to go to Canyon High when he’s a freshman.

This boy joined the Cowboys football team, but in order to compete, he needed to have paperwork signed off by both school’s principals that categorized his transfer as a “hardship.”

That paperwork was then supposed to be sent to the CIF-Southern Section office.

It was never sent.

Gutierrez said “blame me,” and he might be right to accept the blame. He might not.

But what people don’t realize is the kind of person Gutierrez is.

The first year head varsity coach with a couple of years as athletic director under his belt is one of the valley’s most accommodating, fair, thorough and liked sports figures in the Santa Clarita Valley.

That doesn’t excuse a mistake, whether he made it or not. But it does show that Gutierrez, who played an ineligible player against Golden Valley and Saugus for what was just a couple of plays, did it not knowing he was violating any rules.

He’s an honest man who told The Signal that Tuesday, when he watched film of the Saugus game and discovered the player had played in that game, was one of the lowest days of his life.

He said he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t check that the boy had played in other games.

As for the boy, who according to his mother had been harassed by other kids for “costing Canyon a league title,” the player had no idea that paperwork, which was out of his hands, was not completed.

Kids will be kids, but they should have enough maturity to not make a scapegoat of this player.

Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias was the one who noticed this kid playing in the game and brought it to Canyon’s attention.

There are those who say this is a ticky-tack violation — and that may be true because the kid barely played this season. But in the end, it was a violation.

And because of it, for one day, Golden Valley had its first Foothill League win in school history.

For those who think Frias was being just a pest, was he supposed to just sweep it under the rug knowing that Canyon unintentionally played an ineligible player?

This is what he told The Signal on Wednesday:

“There is not one person here within the G.V. community that ever believed we had a win. A win is earned on the field. Anyone who knows anything about G.V., our athletic department, football program, or me, would truly know this is our position.”

Golden Valley’s win would have forever been tainted.

Does anyone really think that head coach Robert Fisher and Frias wanted that?

A similar sentiment was voiced by Saugus Principal Bill Bolde, whose Centurions received the only forfeit win over Canyon because a CIF-SS rule stated that a clerical error in a situation like this would cause the first team the player played against to gain the forfeit victory.

Bolde said he still recognized Canyon as the co-league champions and that Saugus wouldn’t celebrate a Foothill championship.

Yet history will show that Saugus did win a co-championship along with Valencia — a team that defeated Saugus 35-0 in the regular-season finale and earned the No. 1 seed from the Foothill for the Northern Division playoffs.

But let history also show that honorable people make mistakes, an innocent kid had nothing to do with the mistake, and rules, no matter how trivial they may seem, are in place for a reason. 

Cary Osborne is The Signal’s sports editor. He can be reached at cosborne@the-signal.com. His views reflect his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.  

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