Almost forgotten

During HS football season, I don’t really post in this blog – I prefer to do a lot of my work over on the HS ratings site. I suppose I should really cross-post so that people here know what’s going on over there 😉

HS football here in AZ is already in full swing, two weeks into the season. A lot of the preseason favorites are remaining true to form across most divisions, but the biggest surprise has to be Ray (2A), not because of how they’re playing on the field but because of what’s transpired off of it.

The week of Ray’s scrimmage, several kids (9 to be exact) were suspended due to what the school is calling “rules violations”. The coach himself was the one that suspended the kids. However, the next week, the school board deemed it necessary to suspend the kids for the remainder of the season (10 weeks, not counting playoffs) instead of just 1-4 games. The starting QB quit, and then the coach resigned and his son also left the team, leaving the team with only 18 players. The coach’s son was also about to be suspended as well for the same “rules violations”, so rather than having to suspend his own son, the coach quit.

Those 18 players took the field anyway against 2A powerhouse Tombstone last Friday and were summarily beaten by a score of 66-8. However, reports from the game stated that even though Ray was now undermanned, they still played tough. The Ray QB had not even played football for a couple of years, and never above the JV level, and still went out there and played his best.

In my opinion, the season-long suspensions for all 9 kids was excessive. I understand that the administration has a “no second chances” policy, however that policy needs to be revisited – the school belongs to a very small and close-knit community, where what happens at someone’s house can become gossip-fodder in another part of town in a matter of hours. The high school is really one of the focal points of the community, and punishing the kids for 10-plus weeks (because quite frankly, Ray would have been playoff bound had they kept their team intact) for “rules violations” is excessive. The kids should be allowed to work their way back into the good graces of the community, not just written off, which is what the current school administration does with a “no 2nd chances” policy.

Also, the parents of the kids should have some responsibility in the punishment – as it is, their kids continue to go to school AND can transfer to another school without any protest from the Ray HS administration. If the parents were involved in the punishment, then I likely believe this punishment would have been much lighter. I believe that the correct punishment should have been 5 games for the ringleader (because you know there was one), and 2-3 games for everyone else involved. There also should have been a legal ramification as well, since these “rules violations” allegedly occurred off-campus, perhaps some community service.

As it is, the school should also look at itself before pointing fingers and backing a “no second chances” policy. As a matter of public record, one of its own employees was cited for DUI two years ago and yet still remains employed. What kind of mixed message does that send to the community? That adults get second chances, but kids don’t? Do as I say, not as I do?

I do not live in Kearny, AZ. I have only visited there once for a funeral. It’s not exactly a hotbed of happenings. But I do know, having grown up in a small town myself, that the community needs to band together in this time – and from the looks of it, it is doing so. Now it’s up to the school to take the same action and reduce the suspensions of those kids to something more reasonable.

I will be watching what happens to the team from Ray HS for the remainder of the season, and I really hope they bounce back from this drama. Maybe even win a couple of games. At the very least, the 18 kids remaining will be bonded uniquely like no other team in this state and will hopefully take this experience with them out in the real world when they graduate.

[Author edit: After reflection, I’ve come to realize that there was a paragraph here that was really more of an outburst than a rational thought; while my intention was not to blackball a coach but rather berate him for leaving the kids high and dry, in unfortunately was interpreted as such. Therefore, I’ve removed it from this post and the other locations it has been posted.]