Players were expecting to turn in their pads Monday, realizing a season that started with expectations of reaching the state championship game was coming to a premature end. But early in the day, the football players were instructed to report to the weight room with some unexpected news: There’s a game to play in four days.
Coach Matt Gerber said he was informed this morning that Canyon Springs had to forfeit the win, meaning Arbor View will be playing Friday at Desert Pines in the Mountain Regional semifinals. Officials at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association and Clark County School District said Canyon Springs used an ineligible player who participated throughout the season. They didn't indicate why the player was not eligible.
“The kids were shocked to say the least,” Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “Rarely do you get a second chance. They were excited.”
Arbor View beat Desert Pines in last year’s semifinals on the way to winning the regional, rallying to overcome a double-digit deficit in the second half. Undefeated Desert Pines has speed at the skilled positions, which has given Arbor View fits in recent meetings.
“Talent-wise, Desert Pines is probably one of the top two teams in the state,” Gerber said. “But our kids are ready to go to work. Knowing our kids, they realize the opportunity in front of them (to keep playing).”
Desert Pines coaches spent the weekend preparing for Canyon Springs, a team they beat 49-13 earlier in the season. Arbor View coaches took the weekend off.
Now, both will have to hit the reset button, and hit it fast.
"The work was done," Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez said. "We come in on the weekend and create the game plans. Now we have to restart, and this is Arbor View. It's hard to prepare for that (double wing) offense."
Both coaches expressed remorse for Canyon Springs, a program which had beaten Legacy and Arbor View in consecutive weeks, and had as good of a chance as any team in the Las Vegas area to reach the state title game.
"(Canyon Springs coach) Gus McNair is a good friend of mine," Rodriguez said. "I'm heartbroken for them."
The forfeits likely won't pave the way for Legacy and Eldorado, two teams that finished beneath Canyon Springs in the Northeast League, to also have their season rebooted. The playoff bracket is determined by the NIAA, whose policy is to alter a season when the discovery of an ineligible player is made. So, although Canyon Springs beat Eldorado and Legacy, and those victories are now defeats by forfeit, they won't factored into the playoff brackets.
That was the case about 10 years ago when the entire first round of a regional soccer tournament was replayed after an ineligible player was discovered, which presented a scheduling nightmare for officials.
Had the games been factored into the playoff pairings, Legacy would have played Arbor View last week, and Eldorado would have taken on Centennial. You can easily argue Legacy should also get another game — against Arbor View, with the winner facing Desert Pines.