Updated September 25, 2023 - 5:15 pm
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association sent a strong message Monday as it announced punishments for the Arbor View and Desert Pines football teams as a result of a fight that broke out between the teams following their game Friday.
The game, won by Arbor View 28-27 in double overtime, has been ruled a double forfeit and is counted as a loss for both teams. The NIAA, the state’s governing body of high school sports, deemed the incident broke its rules regarding a bench-clearing incident.
Also, both teams’ games this Friday have been ruled forfeits. Desert Pines was scheduled to play at Liberty at 6 p.m., and Arbor View was scheduled to play at Bishop Gorman at 7 p.m. with first place in 5A Division I on the line. Those games will be counted as losses on Desert Pines and Arbor View’s record.
“Our handbook outlines the process for such an altercation,” NIAA Executive Director Donnie Nelson said in an emailed statement.
According to NIAA’s guidelines, if three or more players from a team leave the sideline either before, during or after a game “in response to a bench-clearing incident or engage in a physical altercation,” the teams “must incur a forfeiture or double forfeiture for the game.”
Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said he was “frustrated” with the ruling, but said they will abide by the outcome.
“(The NIAA is) following the letter of the law of the regulation,” Gerber said. “Whatever is written down, they’re going to follow it to the tee. We have to be cognizant that they’re not going to look at ways to lessen the suspension or anything. They’re following what the regulation is and what’s printed.”
The fight overshadowed a thrilling game between two of the state’s top teams. Including Friday’s game, four of the previous five meetings between the Aggies and Jaguars have been decided by one point.
A pair of serious injuries and ejections to members of each team also marred the back-and-forth contest.
Arbor View quarterback Thaddeus Thatcher suffered a broken collarbone as he was hit following an incomplete pass early in the second quarter. Thatcher will miss the rest of the season.
Desert Pines cornerback and UNLV commit Jaylen Allen suffered a serious leg injury in the fourth quarter. Allen was down on the field for more than 40 minutes before he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. There has been no update on Allen’s injury.
Arbor View linebacker Christian Thatcher, the older brother of Thaddeus, and Desert Pines linebacker Kenneth Goodwin Jr. were both ejected in the second quarter after they got into a scuffle on the play following Thaddeus’ injury.
“I talked to my players (Monday) and informed them we have to take responsibility as well for some of the actions that occurred that brought this about,” Gerber said. “… Regardless of the fact of how people react, you got to be smart and think of the bigger picture. I think that’s something all parties need to really take a look at.”
Desert Pines coach Tico Rodriguez could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Liberty and Gorman are both allowed to look for opponents to fill the openings on their schedules. Liberty coach Rich Muraco said in text message the Patriots likely won’t play anyone this week. It is unclear if Gorman will find a replacement opponent for Friday.
With last week’s game and the two teams’ games this week counted as losses, Arbor View and Desert Pines are both 2-4.
While all seven teams in 5A Division I, made up of only Southern schools, will make the playoffs, the bottom two teams in the regular season standings will be relegated to 5A Division II for next season.
Desert Pines is in sixth place at 1-3 in league. Arbor View is tied for second at 2-2.