The Shafter High Generals lost the chance to repeat as Valley Champions when an official blew a call during the overtime period, giving Madera's Torres High a 43-42 last-play win in Shafter Friday night.
The Generals had scored on their first possession of overtime. Torres scored a touchdown and were going for a two-point conversion. But Torres was flagged for a penalty, pushing the ball back five yards. Torres then decided to kick the extra point. A high snap forced the Toros' quarterback – the holder for the kick – to roll to the right side to avoid rushers. He then found Joseph Bass – the center who snapped the ball – in the end zone for a two-point conversion and the win.
The problem: Bass was ineligible to receive a pass.
On the sidelines right after the score, Shafter coaches were yelling within earshot of the referees that Bass was not eligible to catch the ball, so the penalty – a loss of down – should have given the Generals the game. But the officials rushed off the field without listening to any protests made by the Generals coaches, saying it was a "hostile crowd." Others said afterward that although rooters in the stands were angry, they didn't appear to be ready to rush the field.
The next day, the crew chief of the officiating crew that called the game wrote a letter stating that the officials had made a mistake and that he would be willing to meet the parties to make a correction. No one from either side attempted to justify the call.
Representatives from both schools met online with Central Section Commissioner Ryan Tos via Zoom, and two hours later, the Shafter appeal had fallen short. The call was upheld, giving the Toros the win, citing the CIF bylaws specifying that all appeals be made to officials on the field.
In a statement, Tos said, "It is truly an unfortunate situation. There was an error but at the end of the day, we have to go by the bylaws that we adopted last year that all appeals must be taken care of on the field."
He went on to say, "This is a big, ugly, nasty situation all around. "We did what we felt was appropriate. There is no right and wrong answer in this. It is just an ugly situation. "
Aside from the final play, the game had been a good one. The Torres offense kept the Shafter defense on the field for much of the game. On the other side, Ezekiel Osborn and company had a little trouble moving the ball, hurting themselves with mental mistakes and penalties.
Head Coach Jerald Pierucci was upset about the decision but was not surprised by it. "I really thought, at the moment, that this is what the CIF was built to do, or should be built to do."
Pierucci also said that when the CIF "pawns the situation off on the refs, when they had an opportunity to make something that is obviously wrong, and you have the opportunity to make it right, that is what a governing body over kids should do."
Torres now travels to Dos Palos for the Valley Championship game on Friday night.