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PREP FOOTBALL

Woodcreek among Nine Football Teams hit with Sac-Joaquin Section Sanctions

Under co-coaches Brad Hunkins and Kyle Stowers, Woodcreek was hit with a two-practice penalty this summer.
By: Ike Dodson & Steven Wilson - The Press Tribune
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Nine Sac-Joaquin Section football programs will scramble to fit the practice workload into a shortened season this year after violating a new Sac Joaquin Section bylaw designed to limit the number of concussions and injuries to prep gridders this offseason.

Woodcreek High was one of those nine schools joined by Placer County powers Placer, Del Oro, Whitney and Lincoln, as well as, Oakdale, Inderkum and Sacramento. Each program will lose a specific number of vital practices during the 2015-16 season, which began Monday.

While other schools were given up to a six-practice penalty, the Timberwolves were only penalized two practices for violating the ruling on linemen contact during the month of June. 

“We were informed of the official sanction this week, but we had been in contact with the CIF over the last few weeks,” Woodcreek’s co-head coach Brad Hunkins said. “It was our very first practice and from the angle, it looked like someone filmed it from a phone before putting it on Youtube.”

At the time of the infraction, the Timberwolves football program was scrimmaging against Clayton Valley Charter School from Concord. Hunkins, alongside fellow head coach Kyle Stowers, did their best to instruct their players to limit contact with the ball carrier and give all offensive players the right-of-way. 

But even Hunkins, who has been coaching since 2009 at Humboldt State as a Graduate Assistant, admitted he was confused on the exact ruling. 

“I was informed of the change when I was still at Roseville,” he said. “Coach Cunha and I talked about the adjustments and how it would change the level of contact that took place over the summer. But we basically learned the bare minimum as to what is interpreted as contact and what is non-contact.

“Our understanding was our players could touch the ball carrier on the hip, but they needed to give him a clear path to release. The ball carrier can’t drop their shoulder and our guys can’t make tackles… In our very first session, we had contact on the line, which the CIF interpreted as the infraction.”

Woodcreek’s coaching staff adhered to the perimeter ruling, but their linemen were full-go for two or three steps, which was also an infraction.

“We weren’t clear on that,” Hunkins added. “We need to clarify that as a coaching staff and we need to know that better going in to camp.”

Michael Garrison, second-year SJS commissioner, said he took a bylaw learning curve into consideration when handing down the punishments to all nine programs.

“When I thought about the consequences, or sanctions, I knew firstly that it was a brand-new rule and secondly considered the intent of the coaches,” Garrison said Monday. “For the most part, in the camps we looked at, coaches tried to do what they thought was the right thing to do.”

Garrison said teams were only penalized for the specific levels that partook in contact competition. The bylaw is part of a growing movement to follow the NFL’s lead and limit concussions and injuries to football players.

“Concussions are a huge issue,” Garrison said. “Common sense tells you that if you get hit in the head less, you get fewer concussions.

“We are all going to learn together. Who knows what camp football is going to look like in the future.”

Email the Sports Department at: stevenw@goldcountrymedia.com or follow the Sports Editor on Twitter: @stevenjwilson11.