by Victoria Esquivel
Bonita Vista’s varsity football team faced Imperial high school on Nov. 27 for the semi-final game of the division three CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Championships. Bonita was leading 49-7 when a brawl broke out on Bonita’s sideline after senior offensive guard, Atoa Fox got tackled by an Imperial player. This lead to the suspension of two senior starters, Ethan William and TJ Flores, and a direct forfeit for Imperial high school.
“We had to fill in guys behind them. Some other players that we knew were involved didn’t get suspended. We also took action on them because we set a certain standard for our team, and even though CIF might not have seen the action, we saw their actions and we wanted them to know that they were still going to be accountable with us,” assistant coach Phillip Lomax said.
Unlike Flores who received a three game suspension, William was able to prove his innocence in not having direct involvement in the fight with video footage reducing his suspension to one game, the CIF final.
“I found out I was suspended the Monday after the Imperials’ game and I felt like I let down my brothers. It kind of hurts not being able to play my CIF game [or] my state games,” Flores said.
The team began to prepare for the CIF final against Mission Bay, Friday Dec. 5. Head coach Chris Thompson talked to the team about the importance of keeping their composure when it came to the sport.
“I think [we] focused a little more on last week’s game, knowing how close it was that we almost ended up not going to the championship because of that [fight],” Thompson said.
Bonita Vista beat Mission Bay Friday night becoming the 2015-2016 CIF champions for the first time in almost 50 years.
“I was aware of [a] two [game suspension]. I didn’t know of three [games]. I thought I possibly could play my championship game or state game. It hurt [that] I put all that work in just to not play the most important game of the year,” Flores said.
According to Lomax, the team rallied behind the incident that took place against Imperial. Lomax said the team used the incident as inspiration to win the game and possibly get William back onto the field. William was cleared of suspension after the CIF final and began to train for the regional game against Canyon high school.
“I was really angry that I couldn’t play, we’ve been looking [forward to] this moment since we were little kids. After a while I lowkey started tearing up and embraced the moment and realized how beautiful it was that we made it to the championship game. It took all my anger away and I turned that all to a positive emotion to help my teammates out and keep them motivated for the game,” William said.