By Jeremy Balan
Any Marshall High School fans that went to see the Phoenix play McClymonds in Oakland on Friday night were probably left disappointed.
Sure, there was a game on McClymonds’ field, but the opposing team on the visiting sideline wasn’t Marshall.
During a phone interview on Thursday, Marshall athletic director Greg Espy mentioned nothing of a potential cancellation, and as of noon on Friday the game was still on, but just two hours later the San Francisco Section office got a call from the team to cancel it’s bus trip to Oakland.
McClymonds, which got a hint from Marshall that it may have to cancel on Thursday, tentatively scheduled Richmond, which needed to make up a game after Burton, one of its scheduled opponents, cancelled it’s non-league season. The foresight payed off, and the teams got a game in, with McClymonds cruising to a 56-0 win.
According to Marshall head coach Kamon Pierce, the Phoenix were below the required number of 18 players, and additions to the roster were held up by issues with paperwork.
“We had some paperwork issues. We had some kids that needed documents signed that didn’t get signed,” Pearce said. “It went all bad. It was a rough day.”
But according to San Francisco Section commissioner Don Collins, Marshall moved enough players up from the freshman/sophomore team to play on Friday night.
“They decided they’d rather not play. The school did right by its opponent by making sure it could make adjustments, but did not realize the other obligations that an athletic program needs to take care of,” Collins said. “Administratively, it could have been handled better.”
After playing with 16 and 17 players on an exception from Collins and the San Francisco Section in its first three games, Collins mandated that Marshall add enough to its roster to meet the minimum requirement of 18. Collins also said that the Phoenix used an ineligible player in a 42-6 loss to Ukiah, and would have had to forfeit the game if they had won.
Pierce said Marshall’s roster size will increase in the next week and that the Phoenix will be ready for their Academic Athletic Association opener against Mission on Oct. 1, but Collins hopes Marshall and other AAA programs will learn from these mistakes.
“It’s a lesson to any program at any school,” Collins said. “Even if a program isn’t used to having a lot of fans, you have to act like there will be and inform those who are supporting your team.”
Espy did not answer or return repeated phone calls requesting comment on Friday night.