The top-ranked Fossil Ridge High School softball team almost missed the chance to play for a state championship due to a rule infraction that coaches initially tried to hide.
The infraction happened in Saturday’s game against Mountain Range when Fossil Ridge used an ineligible player as a substitute, and then attempted to cover it up later in the game by having the player switch uniforms with an eligible player. Eventually, coaches reported what they had done to Fossil Ridge’s athletic director.
The Colorado High School Activities Association on Wednesday placed the team from Fort Collins on its restricted list, which meant the team would not be allowed to play in the post season.
Fossil Ridge Athletic Director Brandon Carlucci said Thursday that CHSAA approved the school’s request to be temporarily removed from the restriction list after a letter was sent to the organization.
In his letter to CHSAA, Carlucci affirmed that the coaches present during the game, which included head coach Dave Philop, will be suspended from coaching the remainder of the regular season and postseason. Fossil Ridge also forfeited Saturday’s game.
“It was an obvious lack of judgment at a crucial time,” Carlucci said of the infraction. “When we were notified about the situation by our coaches, we acted quickly on it. There is no excuse for this to happen, but we believe the situation happened honestly, with no premeditation, and in a chaotic situation. But ultimately the responsibility for this rests with our coaching staff. …
“The girls didn’t have anything to do with it; it was the coaches,” Carlucci continued. “I don’t want the girls to have to play with a cloud of suspicion over their head or distraction, and that is why we kept the coaching suspensions in place.”
The coaches suspended are Philop, assistant coaches Christy Malara and Roy Nash, and strength and conditioning coach Brad Sawatzky.
“This is about the softball kids at Fossil Ridge and all they’ve accomplished,” Philop told the Coloradoan. “I can’t say anything more about it.”
Mountain Range head softball coach Robert DeThouars said he has struggled to comfort his players “who feel Fossil Ridge cheated to beat them” on their senior day.