By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Junior quarterback/defensive back Michael Ball, broke his collarbone when Walnut’s Aubrey Coleman pulled his face mark. It resulted in an unsportsmanlike penalty and Ball leaving the game in an ambulance. Rowland coach Craig Snyder said Ball is out at least six weeks, which means he possibly could return in time for the second or third round of the playoffs should the Raiders reach that stage. “It was a blatant cheap shot,” Snyder said of Coleman’s action. “He tackled all night going for the head. When you watch him tackle, his arms are always going above the pads.” To continue, click thread
Walnut coach Mike O’Shields phoned Snyder on Monday to offer his condolences for Ball’s injury, but he also said Coleman, who is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, did not intentionally try to hurt Ball.
“It was an obvious facemask and it’s tragic when something like this happens because Michael’s a great kid and he’s having a great year,” O’Shields said. “Because Aubrey’s so big, he struggles getting low on anything. I don’t think there was any malice or intent on hurting Michael on Aubrey’s part.
“I understand Craig’s frustration, but if I thought any of our players were out to intentionally hurt someone I would have handled it. That player won’t be in the game.”
Snyder said when Coleman was issued a second unsportsmanlike penalty for a facemask later in the game, he should have been tossed.
“I know O’Shields doesn’t teach that,” Snyder said. “He’s a great coach, but that kid should have been thrown out of the game when they flagged him again. For a 15-yard penalty we lose one of the best players in the Valley for probably the whole season. It’s heartbreaking.
“When I asked the official about it, he said all they can do is make the (unsportsmanlike) call. I guess that means you can tell a player to go after a guy and put his helmet on their knees if you want them gone at the end of the night. By not throwing him out (Coleman) out that’s the message you’re sending.”
Ball, who has thrown for 553 yards and nine touchdowns and just one interception, also has rushed for 165 yards and five touchdowns and is one of the best players in the Raiders’ secondary.
With Ball out for an indefinite period, junior wide receiver Leonardo Freeman now is at quarterback. He completed 4 of 7 attempts for 51 yards and a touchdown in Ball’s absence.
“First of all Michael is crushed. He was having a great season and it’s over in the snap of a finger,” Snyder said. “If we play well enough down the stretch and muster a win or two in the playoffs, we might get Michael back.
“But in the short term it affects us because not only do we lose a quarterback, we lose a receiver (Freeman) who is now our quarterback. But I’ll tell you what, our kids are resilient. They showed it on Friday and we will get together, map out a game plan and get ready for the rest of the season.”
The Raiders have a nonleague game against Wilson (3-3) on Friday before resuming San Antonio league action on Oct. 30 at home against West Covina.
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