As the late great Vince Lombardi once said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” And it’s a whole lot easier to achieve when you’ve got more individuals than the next organization.
Previously unbeaten Clovis (Calif.) learned that the hard way. Fresno (Calif.) Central entered this past weekend’s game with one win in six tries and pulled off a stunning 21-20 upset of the top-ranked team in The Fresno Bee’s Central Section coverage area, but film review of Clovis’ final drive revealed Central fielded 13 defenders against 11 on offense.
“We missed it,” veteran officiating crew chief Chris Cota told The Fresno Bee, “and we’re devastated.”
Central had 13 players on field against #Clovis High on 5 straight plays & no one noticed: https://t.co/WTzvd4X36f pic.twitter.com/R7GiPTqPKV
— Jim Boren (@jboren4507) October 20, 2015
Cota wasn’t the only one. All five officials, both coaching staffs and apparently everyone in attendance at Clovis’ Lamonica Stadium missed it, too. Central’s defense featured 13 players on five of Clovis’ last six offensive plays and 12 on the other, according to the paper. And there’s nothing anybody can do to rectify the blown call after the fact.
“It’s odd,” Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow told the paper, “that with all those coaches and officials, somebody can’t count to 11.”
Somewhat unbelievably, Clovis still almost won the game on that last-minute drive, advancing 44 yards to Central’s 17-yard line before a pair of incompletions and a 6-yard pass play forced a 34-yard field goal that sailed wide right by a foot.
If for no other reason than to avoid an illegal participation penalty that would’ve extended the drive, Central coach Mark Hetherington denied fielding a baker’s dozen defenders on purpose, telling The Fresno Bee his staff mixed up a pair of personnel groups.
“It’s very unfortunate. It’s too bad that this will take away from how fun and how satisfying it was for our kids. I’d like to move on as soon as possible, but it’s not easy when I realize Clovis, a class program, has experienced the wrong side of injustice. It’s on us as a staff, on me as the head coach, that this wasn’t done the right way. It’s terrible, and it doesn’t feel good.”
For the record, had any of the five referees called the last of Central’s six infractions, Clovis would’ve had first-and-goal. Perhaps the Cougars, now 6-1 entering the final three weeks of the regular season, can take solace in another Lombardi-ism moving forward: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”