Che Holloway, Orange Lutheran running back, wasn't sure how to react.
For 13 weeks, the Lancers have played football. Now, a little more than 24 hours before his last and most important game, he was being told to put everything on hold for a week.
Orange Lutheran's opponent, Rosamond, was removed from the Southern Section Division X playoffs Friday for altering game films, leaving Holloway and his teammates to adjust to a new opponent and a week off.
"I'm ready to play, emotionally and physically," Holloway said. "You get built up to a point. You do that every week, for 13 weeks. Now you have to wait a week. It's weird. It's like being injured, only there's no game to watch. We were ready to play."
His sentiments and confusion seemed shared by teammates after learning they will play Cerritos Valley Christian on Dec. 16. Southern Section officials removed Rosamond from the game, which was scheduled for tonight.
Lancer coaches and coaches from three other teams complained that Rosamond's game films had been edited, with key plays removed.
"I was having trouble sleeping this week, thinking about the game," Holloway said. "Now I have another week of sleepless nights ahead."
Said quarterback Chris Amato: "I was really excited about playing Rosamond because they had [standout running back] Lamar Day. Now I'm excited about playing [Cerritos] Valley Christian. We get another chance to beat them."
Valley Christian defeated Orange Lutheran, 36-31, in the Olympic League finale. A rematch with Valley Christian was the upside school officials pointed out to players and students during an assembly Friday.
The assembly was held to introduce winter sports teams, followed by a pep rally for the football team. Instead, Principal Ken Schueter and Coach Jim Kunau explained the playoff situation to students after the winter sports teams had been introduced. Kunau met with the team afterward.
"We have unfinished business and that's to win the championship," Schueter said at the assembly. Players seemed relieved to have the situation settled. Rumors had circulated for days about the game. Some were concerned that the Southern Section would award the Lancers the title without playing a game.
"That wouldn't feel right," Amato said. "We needed a game to finish the season right."
Others had empathy for the Rosamond players.
"They didn't do anything, but they're the ones who have to pay," Holloway said.
Rosamond received the big penalty, but Orange Lutheran officials were faced with problems too.
Orange Lutheran officials said the school had spent $2,500 for luxury buses to transport the team and fans to Lancaster Antelope Valley High. Those buses will not be needed next week because the Lancers will play at Orange Coast College. Travel time was reduced from approximately three hours to less than 20 minutes. The school will use less expensive buses next week, but officials were unsure whether they would get a full refund.
"We were prepared to play Rosamond," Kunau said. "All we wanted was a complete tape to watch to get ready. The Southern Section made them bring that to us Wednesday. We were ready. We start over on Monday."
The school's other athletic programs will suffer. With an enrollment of about 620, Orange Lutheran depends on students to play more than one sport. There are seven wrestlers, six basketball and five soccer players on the football team. None can play until football season is over.
The varsity basketball and wrestling coaches are also assistant football coaches. All three teams play this week.
"None of my wrestlers will get to compete until the first of the year now," Coach Kevin Kromminga said. "But the good thing is, we get another shot at Valley."