An altered videotape has cost Rosamond High a chance at a football championship.
Rosamond was removed from the CIF Southern Section playoffs Friday, a day before it was scheduled to play Orange Lutheran for the Division X title, after officials found that a game videotape given Lutheran coaches as part of an exchange had been altered.
Orange Lutheran Coach Jim Kunau reported the transgression to the Southern Section on Wednesday after learning from the coach of a team Rosamond had beaten in the playoffs that the incident wasn't a first.
Dean Crowley, section commissioner, ruled Rosamond out of the playoffs, and that ruling was upheld by an appeals board.
Orange Lutheran will play Cerritos Valley Christian next Saturday for the Division X championship at 7:30 p.m. at Orange Coast College. Valley Christian, which lost to Rosamond, 45-10, in the semifinals, defeated Lutheran, 36-31, in November to win the Olympic League title.
Crowley said the violations "were pretty clear. And it's a matter of ethics. They edited certain plays that were scoring plays. For the most part, they were passing plays. And this is a running team."
Section Rule 1931.3 states: "Prior to each CIF Southern Section football playoff game there shall be a mandatory exchange of two game films/tapes between the competing schools. . . . These films/tapes shall be unedited and shall include all plays as originally filmed/taped."
Lutheran officials discovered 13 seconds of blank spots on their tape of Rosamond's semifinal game against Cerritos Valley Christian.
Rosamond Coach Lon Boyett refused to comment after leaving a two-hour hearing Friday at the section's Cerritos office.
An expulsion from a championship game for rules violations is "unprecedented," Crowley said. The only other time a team was removed during the playoffs was in 1974, when St. Paul had to forfeit its victory over Pioneer because three St. Paul assistant coaches were caught filming a Pioneer practice from a van across the street from the school.
Crowley said Bill Clark, assistant commissioner, told Rosamond Principal Richard Stockton of possible problems.
During his investigation, Clark talked with the coaches of Rosamond's three previous playoff opponents--Cathedral, Serrano and Valley Christian--to ask if they had noticed irregularities in the exchanged videotapes. All said yes.
"Rosamond first denied it," Crowley said, "but then we got a call [Thursday] from Stockton saying yes, the films had been altered. I told them I had no alternative but to remove them from the playoffs."
Crowley said he received a call late Thursday from Boyett, who, Crowley said, claimed, "we had been fooling around, and in joking we took a play out. We were joking, but we gave them the wrong film." Crowley said he was unswayed.
During Friday's hearing, Rosamond assistant Dan Steen admitted game videotape had been altered or edited "a dozen times," Crowley said.
Coaches of Rosamond's three playoff opponents, who also attended Friday's hearing, said they suspected something was wrong with their videotapes but decided not to report Rosamond.
"I took it as a bad film," Serrano Coach Ray Maholchic said. "I did not think they would do anything on purpose. But . . . this is unbelievable, and in high school.
"The whole thing's a travesty. What's ridiculous is that that is a good team and those kids deserve to play. This makes a mockery of anyone else being there."
Cathedral Coach Kevin Pearson said he did not speak up because "I'm a first-year coach and I didn't want the reputation of being a crybaby. Plus, when we discovered the tape was cut up, it would have taken too long to get another."