Paly Vs Gunn Football Scrimmage Ends in Conflict
March 17, 2021
Though the various sports at Paly and beyond might have different procedures, warm-up drills, rules, and more, there is one concept that is universally accepted regardless of any other external factors: sportsmanship.
That value was put to the test last Friday night, when rivaling Paly and Gunn football teams met for a friendly scrimmage. After a lot of back and forth in terms of Santa Clara County’s sports regulations, the idea of getting to cleat up and compete seemed far-fetched. Originally, both teams were scheduled for a non-league game, the second week into the season, but that game was inevitably canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. So when it was announced that the frosh/soph and varsity teams would get to meet in a scrimmage instead, the players and coaches were excited to finally get a chance to put their practice to use.
“We were all extremely pumped to finally get to play after such a long break,” varsity team member Patrick Crowley (‘21) said.
The hope was that the team would garner enough game time experience to prepare for the imminent season. However, with any cross-town rivalry, something was bound to go awry.
“I think there was some tension even before the game and it was very apparent that this was going to be bigger than just a scrimmage,” Paly student Emily Crowley (‘21) said.
Regardless, the beginning of the varsity scrimmage seemed to be going smoothly, as the players took the field under the setting sun and floodlights for the first time in more than a year. Nonetheless, it didn’t take long for the pressure to rise.
“Their guy had a dirty hit on us a couple of plays before the penalty which went uncalled, but there was also more frustration internally with the kids who weren’t playing so well,” Varsity Assistant Coach Jurgen Dittrich (‘20) said.
As the game progressed, more aggression built up on both sides, reaching a boiling point when a penalty for a late hit was called on Paly. After the penalty call, Gunn threw in the towel. Within a matter of minutes, the entire team had packed up and left the field. The reaction from the Paly side was one of shock and disappointment. The scrimmage was supposed to be a chance to bring new talent to light, as well as to shape up for the season. Instead, that precious playing time that is so hard to come by in a pandemic era season was stripped away.
“There were kids that did not get an opportunity to play because they walked off, so those kids were pissed. It was also upsetting for coaches because we wanted to see what those kids were capable of,” Dittrich said.
Paly players criticized Gunn’s sportsmanship during the game and believed that if the situation was dealt with better, it would have resulted in a less tumultuous end.
“I think the Gunn coach could have handled it more like an adult, like talking to us and the refs about his frustrations, instead of just walking off,” Dittrich said.
Though the Paly-Gunn scrimmage didn’t play out as planned, the team hopes that they get more opportunities to play, and are looking forward to the upcoming competition season, where they may get the chance for a rematch against Gunn once again.