Del Campo forfeits win against Bella VistaSep 29, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, sports editor
Del Campo junior running back Jordan Wiley prepares to juke Bella Vista junior defensive end Damian Rickett during a 31-7 victory over the Broncos on September 2 in Carmichael.
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) – The Del Campo varsity football team’s 19th straight win against bitter rivals Bella Vista on September 2 has been forfeited due to a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section rule violation.
According to The Sacramento Bee, the case involved the suspension of a player from last season who played in the Cougars’ first three games of this season. The player had his junior season cut short in 2021 when he was ejected from the first round of a Division IV CIF SJS playoff game. Del Campo lost 51-7 at East Union of Manteca.
The player should’ve sat out for the first game of 2022. However, the ineligible senior’s action didn’t affect his team until the conclusion of the third game. That is because the Cougars lost their first two games, 28-20 at Golden Valley of Merced on August 19 and 35-7 at Del Oro of Loomis six days later.
Del Campo dominated the “Battle for Fair Oaks” in front of a large and rowdy crowd on both sidelines. The winless Cougars beat the undefeated Broncos 31-7. Bella Vista fans spent pregame and part of the first quarter chanting “BV due” to indicate this was their year to finally defeat Del Campo.
Alas, the Cougars defeated the Broncos for the 19th straight game dating back to 2003. At least for a couple weeks, that is. The rule violation was discovered following the win, forcing Del Campo to forfeit its first win of the season.
Matt Costa is in his first season as head coach for the Cougars and was unaware of the looming suspension entering a new campaign.
“I’m a new coach with new administration and no one told me or seemed to even know we had a player ejected,” Costa told The Bee on September 21. “Why didn’t Bella Vista tell us? Why wait? Even my player said he didn’t know about the rule. Now we’re (1-4) and we beat those guys handily. I think it’s because we had a couple of Del Campo coaches who now coach at BV, and they waited because they didn’t like that I fired them and didn’t bring them back. That’s not the way it should work.
“Shoot, man, had I known he wasn’t supposed to play, I wouldn’t have played him in the first game. That’s not what we’re about or what I’m about. I don’t know if I want to even play BV next year if this is what we’ve got going on.”
Bella Vista and Del Campo have been playing each other since 1963 when the latter was founded. The home of the Broncos had been built three years prior about four miles away. Bella Vista coach Jim Gray disagreed with Costa about his staff’s knowledge of the suspension prior to the game.
“Had I known about (the player ejection), I would have told coach Costa before our game, so it didn’t catch up to them because that’s not how we want to win games,” Gray said to The Bee. “But my point is, you’re telling me no one at Del Campo remembers that player got ejected and has to sit out? And come on, man. You can’t play him, by rule, and it’s your fault, not mine.”
The matchup between the Broncos and Cougars was widely attended by the Fair Oaks community. The actions in the stands by the fans is what has started to concern Gray.
“The game’s going against Del Campo, and I’m trying to coach, and we’ve got parents from both sides fighting in the stands,” Gray recalled to The Bee. “Maybe we need to settle this all down. Maybe it’s become too heated in this rivalry. I don’t remember a rivalry like this being so intense.”
After the win, Costa was asked by the Messenger Publishing Group about whether the rivalry between Del Campo and Bella Vista still exists, considering one team has dominated the matchup for nearly two decades.
“It’s always going to be a rivalry because it’s close proximity,” Costa said September 2. “We share a lot of kids and it’s in the same neighborhood so yeah it is still a rivalry. I still want to keep them on the schedule because they bring in a great gate.”
In response to the same question, Costa mentioned a matchup that started in 1976 but ended in 2015 due to tempers flaring amongst players and fans.
“Honestly the rivalry that I want to get back going again is Casa [Roble],” Costa said September 2. “I think that’s one that interests me a little bit more right now.”
Following the forfeit, the Cougars are now (1-4) overall and the Broncos are (4-1).