Prep Impressions: Week 11

I covered the Victorville Silverado-Riverside Norte Vista CIF-Southern Section Eastern Division first round playoff football game on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, for The Press-Enterprise and HSGametime.com, and came away thinking Norte Vista’s program is somehow utilizing the prep football equivalent of a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.

Though it’s not entirely free — they forfeited seven victories and the 2013 River Valley League title — the Braves are continuing their season as planned and without much (if any) impact on its team or its’ current postseason chances.

Of course, Norte Vista helped itself by reporting the ineligible player in question to CIF in a timely fashion. Doing so promotes leniency on CIF’s part, regardless of the incident or player in question.

So the Braves move on and after some sluggish moments in the first half, played much better in the second — including 300 total yards from their two top rushers — before going on to a 36-16 victory over Silverado.

NoVi now play at Hesperia Oak Hills in the quarterfinals, but I got the chance ask athletic director Ron Main about the whole whizz-bang proceeding the game.

I led off by asking about the reasoning behind the school not excusing itself from the playoffs.

“The idea was that it was a league decision to, if they had said ‘You need to do (excuse yourself)’ then we would’ve done that,” Main said. “It was a league decision. It wasn’t my decision. It was our league decision. And because of that we decided to go in.”

When I asked him whether the player’s name was Wesley Carroll or Cassell, I got a flat: “I can’t comment on that.”

When I asked head coach Ken Batdorf if the player’s name was Wesley Carroll or Cassell, I got a far more interesting: “Wesley Carroll does not exist. I’m not saying it’s wrong, and I’m not going to correct it.”

Batdorf also did his best to spin the experience into a positive one for himself and the program.

“Hopefully, people understand we did the right thing (and) we showed our kids we did the right thing,” Batdorf said. “Yeah they stripped us of some wins on paper but on the field we won. And we did the right thing. Our kids deserve to be here just as much as anybody else.”

That’s when I asked him if he would elaborate on the incident or player in question.

“It was a stupid thing, a really stupid thing and you know what? I’ve been doing this a really long time and it’s the first time it’s ever happened to me. Now I get it when I saw what happened, and I’m not mad at anybody about it. It’s something that happened,” Batdorf said.

Wow, right?

The timing of the whole thing has also been brought into question, like when did administration first become aware of the player? And how come it took so long to report it?

When I asked Main about the situation’s timetable, Main focused on the players.

“We told the players yesterday after the league meeting because we wanted to have all the facts to them in 6th period. We told them about the forfeiting but that we’re also in the playoffs.”

And unless you’re weird and are into punishment, the rest of the players deserve to play. There’s no way 64 guys should suffer for the actions of a 65th.

“Those are some great kids over there,” Batdorf said. “They deserve every accolade they get.”

The Braves are quite good, with a prominent running attack and a bend-but-don’t-break defense led by one of the Eastern Division’s best defensive backfields.

But only time will tell if they’ll be the Inland Area’s first 6-8 division champion.

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