The William S. Hart Union High School District, at its Board of Trustees meeting at Canyon High on Tuesday night, voted not to seek a temporary restraining order that would have postponed a championship football game Saturday between Santa Barbara and Muir.
Members of the Canyon football community, including coaches, parents and boosters, had raised more than $7,300 to fund a legal challenge that they hoped would force the Southern Section to review Canyon's controversial 28-27 overtime loss to Santa Barbara on Saturday.
The board voted 4 to 1 against seeking a restraining order but said that it would press the matter through other channels.
Southern Section officials have said that appeals cannot be granted during the playoffs, except in the case of an ineligible player. Barrett W. McInerney, an attorney representing Canyon boosters and community members, said that a restraining order would have forced the Southern Section to investigate Canyon's claim that game officials had awarded Santa Barbara a "fifth down" after regulation time had expired.
"The primary party that has the right to contest the "no-protest" rule in the playoffs is the school district because the school district is the member of the (Southern Section)," McInerney said. "The (Southern Section) is refusing to consider the protest at all--period."
National High School Federation rules may support Canyon's contention that the Division II semifinal game should have ended after four quarters with a 21-14 Canyon victory.
With four seconds to play, Santa Barbara faced a fourth down at the Canyon one-yard line. Canyon was penalized for encroachment and officials spotted the ball at the one-foot line. Time expired, however, before Santa Barbara could get off a play.
Canyon celebrated, but the officials, ruling that the clock should have remained stopped, awarded Santa Barbara another play. Santa Barbara scored a touchdown, then won the game in overtime.
The federation's rules state that the clock should be started after a penalty is assessed after a dead-ball foul. Cal Houston, a former official who now assigns officials for Southern Section games, declined to comment on the game's officiating but said, "If it's an encroachment penalty, it's a dead-ball foul."
Stan Thomas, Southern Section commissioner, labeled Canyon's protest "a dead issue." Thomas added, however, that Canyon "probably" had a right to be upset. Thomas declined further comment on the officiating.
Canyon's plight sparked a community fund-raising rally Monday.
KBET, a Canyon Country radio station that broadcast the game, accepted donations from listeners.
"We felt the community was behind us, but we never expected this," said fund organizer Cathy Beidle, whose son, Tim, is the Cowboys' starting quarterback. "After sitting at the game and watching the film, (we) just couldn't stand it."
Beidle has said that all donations would be returned if Canyon was not granted the restraining order.
Canyon, meanwhile, faces a repair bill for damages to the visiting locker room at Santa Barbara. After the game, Canyon players and coaches left the field in a rage and vented their anger in the locker room. Santa Barbara coaches later found two broken doors, a broken glass trophy case, a broken blackboard and a broken drinking fountain.
Canyon Coach Harry Welch admitted that Canyon had caused the damage and that Canyon would assume financial responsibility.
"I was in a rage," said Welch, who admitted breaking the trophy case. "I'm not proud about it. There is no question that I acted inappropriately. I don't condone breaking or damaging other people's property and I never agree with vandalism. These things go against my good name and I brought it on myself. I'm not going to break any windows in the future, I promise you."
Welch, however, said that the situation was aggravated by Santa Barbara players, who allegedly followed the Cowboys into the locker room and challenged them. Canyon supporters, Welch said, also were harassed by Santa Barbara fans while they boarded their buses.