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Football forfeit has Hillmen fans upset, hopeful

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Hillmen pride was still strong Friday despite a forfeit by the Placer High football team of three of its four wins this season. The team – dropped from 2-0 to 0-2 in league play – took on Bear River High School in Pioneer Valley League play Friday at Auburn’s LeFebvre Stadium. Wearing a green-and-gold Placer cap, Jeff Virgil said he held out hope that what he sees as a paperwork problem won’t stand in the way of this year’s team regrouping and playing up to their potential the rest of the season. “It’s unfortunate for the kids but now we see what they’re made of,” Virgil said. A member of the state champion 1977 Hillmen team, Virgil said he had been impressed with the team’s tenacity this year. “They never quit,” he said. “It’s hard to say what will happen but watching them practice and talking to some of the kids, they’re playing as a team. Even in the losses, they were still in the game.” Placer High grad Kent Wardley said that he recognized how hard the team had worked starting in the summer to achieve successes in games that had now been taken away. Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco announced a ruling Thursday that the Hillmen used an ineligible player in three games. Placer High Athletic Director Mark Lee said Thursday that he mistakenly filed the wrong paperwork with the section. “Knowing what they had to go through, it’s not fair for the kids to get punished when it’s not their fault,” Wardley said. “It seems they have a rule but you have to look at the situation to see if it applies.” Ryan Miller, another Placer High School graduate, said he’s still confident that Placer can brush off the misstep during what has been an otherwise successful season so far and finish with a winning record. Marvin Jacinto, a 1955 Placer graduate with two grandsons on the football team, said the ruling seemed unfair. “Obviously the team that made the challenge is worried about losing the league,” he said. “I’m disappointed and understand there may be a protest.” Calls Friday on the possibility of a protest, appeal or even a court challenge went unanswered by both Lee and Sac-Joaquin Section officials on Friday. Lacy Reese, a freshman at Placer, said the forfeits dominated many discussions leading up to the game. The stands at LeFebvre, which hold approximately 2,500 people, were nearly full before kickoff. “It was good that someone took responsibility for a mistake but it’s still a bummer for our season,” Reese said. E.V. Cain student Eddie Vanderdoes said he had attended all the Hillmen games this year. “It’s finally coming out good for the team and then their chances are messed up,” he said. More coverage of the game and the forfeit issue will appear in Sunday’s Auburn Journal. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.