Clayton Valley Charter High School from Concord is 15-0 and set to play Redlands East Valley in Saturday's 4 p.m. CIF state championship Division II bowl game at StubHub Center in Carson.
To get this far, the Ugly Eagles (yes, that's the nickname) have had to deal with lots of controversy off the field.
Clayton Valley is the school that former De La Salle lineman Kahlil McKenzie transferred to before North Coast Section Commissioner Gil Lemmon concluded that the transfer was athletically motivated and ruled McKenzie ineligible. In fact, Clayton Valley had six transfers this season, three of which were denied eligibility.
In many ways, what's happening at Clayton Valley, which became a charter school in 2012-13, has already happened in Southern California. Parents are trying to take advantage of a school known for its academic and extracurricular success. The question is whether in the transfer process they are following CIF eligibility rules.
The school has been placed on two years' probation for rule violations that Clayton Valley Executive Director David Linzey said were "technical" when individuals gave the wrong information out. The school is seeking a reduction in the probation.
Lemon, in a memo he wrote as part of the rules process, expressed his concerns about the number of transfers.
"Over the last three years there have been a number of football transfers, 15 in all," he wrote. "Four have been denied eligibility based on athletic motivation, which is 27%, almost eight times greater than the normal denial rate based on athletic motivation. Even considering the argument that the conversion of Clayton Valley High School to Clayton Valley Charter High School, this is extremely alarming. The transfer rate for football players to your school in the last three years far exceeds students in other sports at your school, or other sports within the North Coast Section."
In response, Linzey said, "We're a school in demand in a lot of areas. Parents are looking out for the best interests of their kids."
Adding to transfer issues, Coach Tim Murphy was found to have conducted three illegal practices in June along with an illegal passing scrimmage. The team was forced to lose six practices. He chose to voluntariy sit out the team's first two games to get three practices back.
So let's just say they Ugly Eagles have had lots of distractions this season but still made it to Carson. All the remaining players are eligible and in good standing with the North Coast Section.