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After Dorsey Lost Game, Dons Lost Cool

It was an ugly scene when fans threatened officials at the conclusion of the City 4-A Division semifinal football game between Dorsey and Wilmington Banning high schools Friday night at Gardena High.

Banning won, 21-20, when Travis Davis scored on a late touchdown run, but Dorsey supporters were upset over several penalties called against the Dons in the fourth quarter. After Dorsey’s last drive was stopped, game officials called the game with 15 seconds remaining when a couple of Dorsey fans ran onto the field.

Moments after the fans were collared, the Dorsey team, along with a wave of fans, approached Banning’s sideline, igniting a heated verbal exchange and several minor scuffles. Police and coaches prevented any serious violence, but the outburst should not have happened.

Over the past several years, Dorsey, which won the 4-A title last season, has complained about favorable treatment given to the City’s other top teams--Banning, Carson and Granada Hills.

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In Friday’s game, Dorsey had a touchdown called back because of a penalty, a late second-quarter drive to Banning’s one-yard line hurt by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and incurred 45 yards in penalties on Banning’s winning 83-yard scoring drive.

On Banning’s final drive, Dorsey’s last penalty--for unsportsmanlike conduct--followed two consecutive pass interference calls against the Dons.

“We had a couple of close calls go against us,” said Dorsey’s Paul Knox, who is co-coach with Paul McAdoo. “I thought that the calls were very tight.”

Knox’s disappointment is understandable, but the officials made calls they thought were right. What hurt the Dons most was their unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Dorsey simply lost its control, which turned out to be costly when added to its other penalties.

“We kept our composure,” Banning Coach Joe Dominguez said. “I don’t think that they did.”

But in a game that was generally well played, it was a shame that the roles played by game officials became so important.

“It’s unfortunate that calls sometimes decide a ballgame,” said Lee Joseph, City interscholastic specialist who attended the game. “I’m sure that the officials call what they see, and in this case, we have veteran officials. You have to trust their track record. The bottom line is that you always want to have the players and kids make the final decision on the outcome of any ballgame.”

Joseph is aware of complaints made by Dorsey, but says that in situations like Friday night’s, everyone--from players to fans--should be held accountable.

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“It is my concern that in three of the last five years, there have been questionable calls involved in games with Dorsey against Carson or Banning,” Joseph said. “Maybe Dorsey’s argument is justifiable, but to have a negative attitude takes away from the game. This attitude needs to be cut off at the roots in the community. Dorsey players and coaches do a great job, but it is their parents and supporters who need discipline.”

Overshadowed in Banning’s victory over Dorsey was a fine recovery by Davis.

Davis, the City’s leading rusher, was held in check for almost four quarters by the Dons. After gaining only four yards in the first half, Davis fumbled midway through the fourth quarter. Four plays after Davis’ fumble, Dorsey scored on a 37-yard pass play from Lamont Warren to Keyshawn Johnson, with Davis defending.

But in the game’s final minutes, Davis made up for his mistakes with a winning 14-yard touchdown run and a last-second defensive play on a pass to Johnson in the end zone.

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“I had to redeem myself after I fumbled,” Davis said. “I knew I had messed up and I just wanted to give us a chance to win on my touchdown. Then, I had to get Johnson back because he got that first TD on me.”

City Commissioner Hal Harkness acted within the guidelines of the National Federation of State High School Athletic Assns. by declaring results from the City cross-country meet official after 48 hours, but he could have extended the period because of the circumstances, according to Frank Kovaleski, the federation’s assistant director.

Harkness discovered an error in the boys’ team scoring three days after the City meet at Pierce College in Woodland Hills Nov. 17., which resulted in the wrong team being sent to the state meet Nov. 24 in Fresno.

Woodland Hills Taft originally was announced as second, behind champion Belmont, with 115 points. Garfield was thought to be third with 117. A computer malfunction forced the meet to be hand-scored and only the top 15 finishers and team scores were available at the meet.

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When the meet was rescored Nov. 20, it was found that Garfield and Taft actually tied with 107 points and Garfield should have advanced to the state meet by virtue of a higher-placing sixth runner.

Neither Taft nor Garfield was informed of the error and results without team totals were mailed over Thanksgiving and not received by most coaches until Nov. 26--two days after the state meet.

“We have time limits on cross-country meets, but the situation (at the City meet) is not a typical thing,” said Kovaleski, who specializes in cross-country and track rulings. “It’s not something that happens a lot, but the problem should have been addressed when the error was discovered.”

Kovaleski added, however, that the Federation rules provide only a framework for state high school governing bodies to work with. The state governing body has the final authority.

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“We only offer suggestions on how to handle things,” Kovaleski said. “States make provisions and do things differently. (But) the rule was not intended to prevent a mistake from being corrected.”

Prep Notes

Loyola linebacker Drew Casani broke the shinbone in his left leg during the Cubs’ 24-14 victory over Quartz Hill Friday night in the Southern Section Division I championship game at Anaheim Stadium. Casani, the Angelus League defensive player of the year, apparently broke it in the second quarter but played the rest of the game. A cast was applied Monday. . . . The City 4-A Division football championship game between Carson and Banning will be played Friday night at 7:30 at El Camino College. The 3-A game, between Lincoln and Poly, is set for Friday night at 7:30 at East L.A. College.

Ocean View High’s boys’ basketball Tournament of Champions began Monday and will conclude Saturday night at 8:30 with the championship game. Included in the 16-team field are top-seeded Long Beach Poly, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Long Beach Millikan and San Bernardino. . . . The 49th annual Beverly Hills Invitational boys’ basketball tournament begins today and concludes Saturday night at 7:30 with the title game. Among the 16 teams entered are Rolling Hills, Encino Crespi, Playa del Rey St. Bernard and Long Beach Wilson.

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Times staff writer Kirby Lee contributed to this story.


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