Burney Homecoming game cancelled as Raiders forced to forfeit their last two victories

From the Bleachers – With Ron Mosher
Trevor Montgomery contributed to this article

See related Op/Ed below.

BURNEY, Calif., — The Raiders were hit with a triple dose of bad news over the last week, including the stunning blow of being forced to forfeit their last two games, both of which were Burney wins. Parents and players alike were shocked and frustrated to hear of the team’s CIF-ordered forfeitures, and the news has left high school football fans throughout the community with many valid questions – but few clear answers.

Responding to SCNS inquiries, CIF officials have only said the forfeitures were “due to a violation(s) of CIF rules” on the part of the school, and were not directly related to any wrong-doings of the players themselves. However, they have declined to provide any further details and have not responded to multiple requests for information and clarification.

The bad news just piled up higher when the team learned that their last-minute opponents had to back out of the Raider’s Homecoming game, which had originally been planned for this week, but had to be changed after the first team they were scheduled to play was not able to field a team for this year’s season. Sadly and frustratingly, this will be the second year in a row with no Homecoming game for the Raiders, after the COVID pandemic wiped out the local football season last year.


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After losing last year’s season to the ongoing pandemic and public health crisis, everyone at Burney High was hoping this year would be different – and so far it had been… right up until this week when the school was dealt its back-to-back-to-back bad news blows.

The first set of bad news came when the Loyalton Grizzlies had to cancel their game scheduled for this Friday in Burney due to the COVID-forced closure of their school until September 18. That night was to be Burney’s annual Homecoming game.

However, the Raiders got a brief bit of good news – and their hopes up – when Anderson Valley, a school in Mendocino County agreed to save the Raiders homecoming and drive their team some 260 miles to Burney on Saturday – only to cancel out on Monday due to recent injuries that left them without enough players to field a squad.

So, for the second year in a row, the Burney Raiders will not have a Homecoming football game.

On the bright side, the other usual Homecoming activities will still take place Friday evening – including the Powder Puff game, float parade, bonfire and more – just no football game.

“It’s just plain unfortunate,” Assistant Coach Michael von Schalscha told SCNS today of the now-twice cancelled Homecoming game; adding, “These kids work hard, but having both games canceled is out of our control.”

von Schalscha went on to say that rather than dwell on what can not be changed at this point, the team is “just focusing on controlling the controllables” and are now preparing for their next scheduled game planned against powerhouse Redding Christian next Thursday. The Raiders lost their last game to RC when they went down fighting for a 41-6 loss.

Then, late last week, the Raiders were dealt yet another blow to their gridiron season, when the CIF notified the school that the team would have to forfeit their last two games – both of which were Raider wins – due to a violation(s) of CIF rules on the part of school.

The reason(s) for the penalty remain a bit fuzzy, as the school has not gone on the record as to what actually happened to cause the harsh CIF penalty.

One anonymous person affiliated with the school told SCNS it was, “a clerical SNAFU” that caused the forfeitures. Another person familiar with the CIF penalty, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained a bit further, saying the issue began when a couple of new players were inadvertently left off the official team roster. According to that person, when the school contacted the northern section CIF office to inform them of the accidental clerical error, the new commissioner, Scott Johnson, handed down the two-game forfeit penalty.

To add insult to injury, both of the now-forfeit games had been hard-fought Burney wins. (Burney over Chester, 42-25, and Burney over Tulelake, 36-20)

While researching the background details related to the harsh CIF penalty, SCNS’s Ron Mosher learned that while the un-rostered player(s) in question suited up and played in the now-forfeit games, they were not directly responsible for any of the team’s multiple touchdowns that led to their wins.

Contacted today for more information about the forfeitures, Assistant Coach von Schalscha declined to comment and referred all questions regarding the issue to school Principal and Athletic Director Ray Guerrero. Over the last few days SCNS has reached out to Guerrero, both via email and telephone; however he has not yet responded to any of our queries.

Likewise, the northern section CIF commissioner has not replied to our e-mails requesting further information and clarification as to what happened to warrant the drastic penalty.

In any case, the school is reportedly appealing the forfeits and awaits a decision that could have implications on the Raiders’ playoff hopes.

Related Op/Ed by Ron Mosher

So once again, we have the CIF lowering the hammer on a prep school team with their oh-so-familiar ‘Forfeit’ punishment, all – possibly – because an adult screwed up some paperwork of one kind or another.

In my humble opinion, it’s cruel punishment to come down hard on a group of student/athletes who’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. The Burney Raider football players have worked their tails off to follow the rules set down by their coaches, school – and the CIF itself. They’ve committed no sin. They’ve committed no error whatsoever. They’ve lived and played according to everyone’s standards and demands.

So why are they being punished for a mistake made that was completely out of their hands?

Let’s take a closer look as to what this two-game forfeiture really does to these young players.

They were in second place in their league after winning the two games in question. Once the CIF lowered the boom, the team dropped to last place in the standings. In the running for a playoff spot, the Raiders went from second place in their division to fifth place – with only four teams making the playoffs. The adults of the CIF basically dropped these players from having the possibility of a first round home game in front of their parents, relatives, fans and fellow students, to sitting on the bubble of possibly not making the playoffs at all.

Just what kind of message are you adults sending to these youngsters? Surely not a message that follows your slogan of, “Victory with Honor.”

I also think it’s important for the adult who ‘screwed up’ in this case to at least come forward (even if it’s anonymously) and give these kids and the community the true reason for these forfeits. They at least deserve to know the reason they’re being punished.

I also firmly believe that the powers-that–be inside the inner workings of the national/state CIF come to grips with the notion that punishing student/athletes for mistakes made by adults is unfair and needs to be immediately changed.

Do your job in overseeing the fairness and to control the chaos of high school sports. Don’t fumble your chance to do the right thing… and for God’s sake don’t punt this problem down the road any longer!

About Ron, from the man himself:

Ron Mosher

I began doing sports coverage since the days of Dennis Smith at the Intermountain News in Burney in the mid 1960s through the mid 1970s. I took a long break after moving to the Bay Area, where I had an eight year stint with the San Francisco Giants front office as accounting and data processing manager – so my life has pretty much revolved around balls – footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, softballs, baseballs and the kids who toss ’em, catch ’em and excel in sports.

I returned to the Intermountain area in the 1990s and restarted my sports life in the area by working for Donna and Walt Caldwell and their Mountain Echo newspaper, retiring a few years ago after 20-plus years chasing kids all over northern California covering their antics in playing games. 

I have a love for all three of the Intermountain area schools, having attended Big Valley elementary through fourth grade, graduating from Burney elementary and then becoming a 4-year Fall River Bulldog, graduating in 1961… yep, I’m an old guy.

But, I’m an old guy who’s glad to be returning to the keyboard in following Intermountain Area sports and the kids who play ’em… remember: Find something round… you’ll have a ball!

Contact the editor: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.