UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS: Placer, Del Oro among nine football teams hit with Sac-Joaquin Section sanctions

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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Nine Sac-Joaquin Section football programs will scramble to fit the practice workload into a shortened season this year after violating a new SJS bylaw designed to limit the number of concussions and injuries to prep gridders this offseason.

Among the penalized schools are Placer County powers Placer, Del Oro, Whitney and Lincoln. Oakdale, Inderkum, El Camino, Woodcreek and Sacramento were also hit with the sanction, a loss of six vital practices during the 2015-16 season that began Monday.

Placer, Sacramento, Inderkum and Oakdale were targeted together by clashing violently in a three-day contact football camp at Placer High in June.

Michael Garrison, second-year SJS commissioner, said he took a bylaw learning curve into consideration when handing down the punishments to all nine programs.

“When I thought about the consequences, or sanctions, I knew firstly that it was a brand-new rule and secondly considered the intent of the coaches,” Garrison said Monday. “For the most part, in the camps we looked at, coaches tried to do what they thought was the right thing to do.”

Placer’s camp was a clear indication of intent to avoid contact that simply didn’t work out. Coaches established, in writing, a guideline for avoiding big collisions and injuries by keeping ball-carriers off the ground by wrapping them up and holding them upright.

This ultimately didn’t stick when tempers rose and players looked to establish control of the field. In one instance witnessed by an Auburn Journal reporter, Placer High fullback Morgan Robinson was violently tackled in a “high-low” spearing by two Sacramento defenders. The tackle was a possible reaction to when Robinson lowered his shoulder and bowled over a Sacramento defensive back a few plays prior.

“Coaches at Placer High had stuff written down on paper and talked about contact, agreed to avoid it, but when I looked at video tape of the camp, clearly what they had written on paper had developed into more contact,” Garrison said.

Garrison said teams were only penalized for the specific levels that partook in contact competition. He said that since Placer’s junior varsity and freshman teams didn’t join the contact camp, they were not sanctioned.

The bylaw is part of a growing movement to follow the NFL’s lead and limit concussions and injuries to football players.

“Concussions are a huge issue,” Garrison said. “Common sense tells you that if you get hit in the head less, you get fewer concussions.

“We are all going to learn together. Who knows what camp football is going to look like in the future.”

Placer High football coach Joey Montoya and athletic director Mark Lee were unable to be reached before press time.

Email Ike Dodson at Follow him on Twitter, @Ike_Dodson.