One of Southern California’s best high school sports Cinderella stories this Fall suffered a devastating blow on Monday, as Cabrillo High administration confirmed that they will be forfeiting all four wins from their football team’s historic 4-0 start.
The Jaguars self-reported that they were in violation of Bylaw 2100, a CIF Southern Section rule that states that all varsity football players must be at least 14 years of age. Cabrillo played a 13 year-old freshman in each of its four games so far this season, necessitating the forfeits.
“The Cabrillo administration self-reported a violation of CIF-SS bylaws,” said CIF-SS spokesperson Thom Simmons. “As these are self-imposed sanctions I would need to refer you back to the school for any further comment.”
The news was a tough hit for a Jaguars team that was 4-0 heading into Moore League play this week for the first time in program history. Defensive coordinator Rodney Van broke the news to the team Monday. Head coach Shane Gonzales said it was a heartbreaking day on the Westside.
“When I saw the team, Coach Van was already in there talking to them and it was pretty silent,” he said. “If I didn’t know what was going on, I would have thought that Coach Van was telling them that somebody had passed away or something. And I was bummed that that was the feeling, because they’re still 4-0 in my eyes.”
The issue was that 14 year old players are asked to sign a consent waiver saying their kids can play varsity football even though they aren’t yet 15. When the 13 year-old player’s parent was given the waiver, the thought was it was a general waiver of the age requirement.
“It was an honest oversight,” said Cabrillo vice principal Stacie Alexander. “We believed at the time that the parent consent to participate waived the age requirement. It is unfortunate, but we accept the outcome.”
The Cabrillo administration realized the error Monday and self-reported to the CIF-SS.
“It’s tough, but I mostly feel bad for the kids, because they finally had something to be proud about,” said Gonzales. “They’ve been called losers and told that they suck, and now they were walking around with something to be proud of.”
Making the news even more painful is that it removes the Jaguars from playoff contention via an at-large bid, which requires a team be at least .500. Had they been 4-0 and won just one game in league they would have been eligible to apply for the postseason as an at-large. Now they’d need to finish in a top three spot in the Moore League to make the playoffs.
The Jaguars went 1-8 last year and were looking for their first .500 season since 2011, when they went 7-4 under coach Jason Brown. The Jaguars had won just three games over the last three combined seasons, and were unable to field a team in the COVID-19-affected 2020 season.
With all of that in mind, Gonzales said the forfeits don’t cancel out the reward of climbing from not being able to field a team to being undefeated on the field in their 2022 nonleague schedule.
“When it’s all said and done, those games were real, you know; those wins are real,” he said. “We felt it, we saw it, and those memories and those experiences, you can’t take them away.”
Staff writer Tyler Hendrickson contributed to this report