On this Friday night in California, the high school football playoffs were continuing to take shape as the finals matchups would be decided.
The game between Valencia and Saugus to decide who would advance to the CIF Southern Section Northern Division looked like it would be one of the more interesting games of the night, particularly to see whether the upstart Saugus Centurions would be able to keep up with the five-time Foothill League Champion Vikings.
Those thoughts were quickly put to rest, however, as Valencia raced out to a 20-0 halftime lead.
The story of the game came midway through the third quarter.
Saugus junior quarterback Chris Hamilton threw a pass over the middle to senior wide receiver Timmy Kahovec when junior safety Jay Jay Wilson drilled Kahovec in the shoulder pads to force an incompletion.
What followed after the big hit was one of the most controversial officiating decisions of the California high school season.
After the Saugus coaching staff pleaded for a targeting penalty on Wilson — a move which resulted in penalties being assessed to the staff — and Saugus fans erupted into a “kick him out” chant, the referees ultimately ejected Wilson from the game, despite the hit being legal. By CIF rules, Wilson is automatically suspended for the CIF Northern Division Final versus Foothill rival Hart next Friday.
Due to Wilson’s hit, albeit hard, clearly being within the rules, CIF must make a statement in this situation and overturn Wilson’s botched suspension and allow the star safety to play against Hart.
They must make a statement that obviously missed calls will not be tolerated, especially with the stakes at such a high level.
Time for the CIF to make a statement by reinstating Wilson, and not letting a frankly horrible call possibly decide the winner of a highly sought after CIF title.
As of now, Wilson is currently suspended, but will the CIF step up and do what is right? For the integrity of the playoffs, here’s hoping they do just that.