Tigers protest OAL forfeits

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Katelyn Bauzon

Momma tiger speaks out: Ema Apadoca (left) and her son, CPA junior Bishope Apadoca, speak to OAL Commissioner Michael Moore on Nov. 16. Football players were outraged when the OAL cancelled Fremont’s season.

Despite a protest march to the Oakland Athletic League office, a meeting with the league commissioner and a formal plea from the principal, Fremont Federation of High School’s football team still wasn’t eligible to play its homecoming game or the league playoffs.

Fremont was disqualified from the homecoming game and had to forfeit three victories because the OAL determined the school had ineligible players during previous games. The players learned about the homecoming cancellation Nov. 10, two days before they were supposed to play the Castlemont Knights at Curt Flood Field.

The players were deemed ineligible for many reasons including living outside the Fremont boundaries, not having a 2.0 GPA and turning in paperwork late.

Principal Daniel Hurst sent an inquiry on Nov. 14, to principals across the district to check the eligibility of players from each OAL team — Skyline, McClymonds, Oakland High, Oakland Tech and Castlemont — because he and other school officials believed those schools had players with similar situations as Fremont’s ineligible players but did not have their seasons shortened or games forfeited. Some teams also allegedly had players who attended multiple summer camps, which is a violation of OAL rules.

“These inquiries are not done out of vindictiveness, but done to allow us the opportunity to examine and fix our system so that it does not unfairly punish students,” Hurst stated in the letter.

Many students were upset with the OAL’s decision.

“I feel like the OAL hates Fremont,” testified Mandela freshman Tyshone Gaines, who plays free safety on the team, during a two-hour meeting about the penalties with commissioner Michael Moore.

The forfeits and cancellation made Fremont ineligible for the league championship Silver Bowl. Before the games were forfeited, Fremont’s league record had been 3-1. Fremont’s only loss in the OAL was to McClymonds, the team that ended up winning the Silver Bowl in a 33-19 game against Skyline on Nov. 25.
On Nov. 15, just five days after the homecoming game was cancelled, football players, cheerleaders, coaches and parents marched down High Street to the OAL office. The walkout was organized by parents of football players.

“We did the strike because they canceled our game and we wanted more information on why they canceled the game,” said Mandela senior Siliveinus Tomasi, who played right tackle and right guard.

In response to the protests, Moore held the meeting in Fremont’s auditorium. Faculty members, football players, coaches, cheerleaders and the players’ family members attended. Many of them spoke.

Fremont supporters complained that the OAL had had seven weeks to inform the team that it had ineligible players on the roster, but the league did not declare the ineligible players until the day before homecoming.

“We weren’t informed that we were ‘cheating,’” said Media Academy senior Marcus Robinson, a running back, wide receiver and safety for the Tigers.