Seven players -- four from Santa Ana Century and three from Santa Ana Valley -- will sit out between one and three games in the wake of an altercation involving athletes and spectators at an Orange League boys' soccer match Wednesday at Centennial Park in Santa Ana.
The suspensions were imposed by school officials as a result of a two-hour meeting Thursday, when videotape of the game was reviewed.
The match was halted by referees in the final minutes of stoppage time with Santa Ana Valley holding a 4-0 advantage after players from both teams scuffled and then some fans also came onto the field and became involved in the fracas.
"Something was going to happen. There was going to be a fight," Century Coach Bruce Silverman said. "It was just the kind of thing that you could see it building."
There were two yellow (warning) cards issued to Century players, and one yellow card issued to Santa Ana Valley during the course of the game, but Silverman said the referees' control grew more tenuous.
Century (12-4-2, 2-1-1 in league) entered play ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section Division IV coaches' poll. Santa Ana Valley (11-6-1, 3-1-0) is No. 8 in the same division.
According to Century Principal Greg Rankin, order was restored by school administrators, coaches and park security personnel.
Rankin, who did not attend the game but participated in Thursday's meeting, said a report from school officials explaining their interpretation of events and their plans for resolution will be sent to the Southern Section office today.
C.J. Gable, a Times' All-Star from Sylmar, committed to USC, choosing the Trojans over Arizona. He rushed for 2,117 yards and a City Section-leading 34 touchdowns this fall. He also had seven interceptions to help the Spartans reached the semifinals.
The Southern Section Council Thursday approved measures that will enable the section to shuffle playoff groupings every two years, establish a master's meet in swimming and change the starting date for girls' golf.
The playoff grouping proposal was the only one with significant dissent, passing by a 54-13 vote. It requires the section to revisit the divisions in which each league is placed for playoffs.
Section officials will look at four years of history to determine whether schools for a particular league should move to a more competitive division, to a less competitive division or remain where they are. The proposal covers all sports and will begin in the 2006-07 school year.
The master's swimming meet, which begins this spring, calls for the top swimmers from each of four divisions to compete against one another to determine overall section champions. Details such as the qualification process have yet to be finalized.
Moving the start of girls' golf up a week, and therefore ending the regular season a week earlier, will allow for an additional round of playoffs. Girls' golfers will now be required to qualify for the section individual championships through regional tournaments, the same as the boys.
The new system, to be implemented in the fall, offers the flexibility of increasing the allotment of players each league can send to the postseason.
The council also moved to approve two state proposals that amend the steroid policies put in place at the start of the current school year.
The first bans anyone affiliated with a school, including booster club members, from providing athletes with muscle-building nutritional supplements. It also clarifies the guidelines of allowable sponsorships from companies that sell muscle-building supplements.
The second requires schools to adopt policies specifically targeted at steroids rather than classifying them under their general illegal drug policies.
-- Peter Yoon