Why the system works for some, and not others ..

When you think of all the grief that Jordan and Jamie Canada went through trying to become eligible at South Hills, their family moving into the area only to be declared ineligible because of “athletically motivated,” reasons, it stinks why others are allowed to transfer, even when on the surface it’s obvious it’s just another athletically motivated transfer. If a school has a grudge against a player, as was the case with Duarte’s administration in regards to the Canada’s, they can stop them by crying foul. If a school lets the kids do what their families wish, in Long Beach Poly’s case, as with other cases like South Hills allowing Travis Santiago to go to Charter Oak without a fight, they can transfer without suspicion. The system isn’t working, it isn’t fair, read Bob Keisser’s column in the Long Beach Press Telegram about Dylan Lagarde.

By Bob Keisser: In football, you know to watch the ball at all times, because no one has ever scored a point without catching it, running with it, kicking it or pursuing it. When it comes to quarterbacks in high school, however, you need to expand your field of vision beyond 100 yards. Perhaps to 100 miles, in some cases.

There is a local case in point causing spit takes around town and laments about the way parents, and the coaches who enable them, game the system by moving their athletically inclined sons and daughters from school to school on a whim.

There’s nothing whimsical about it.

Dylan Lagarde went to Serra High School in Gardena as a freshman (ninth grader). He then transferred to Long Beach Poly, able to do so thanks to state rules that allow freshmen to transfer without compunction.

Lagarde won Poly’s starting quarterback job not so much on merit as senior Chris Leachman’s missing preseason work with a bad case of mononucleosis. Lagarde was 1-3 in three starts on a rare Poly team in rebuilding mode, completing 41 percent of his passes for 291 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Raul Lara replaced Lagarde with Leachman in the third loss, to Oceanside. And Lagarde promptly quit and immediately transferred to Los Alamitos. Lara said Friday that Leachman was always the intended starter for 2009 but his mono set him back.

Not the end of the story. Lagarde’s family requested a meeting to discuss his immediate
eligibility, and Los Alamitos cleared him. It was it’s decision to make, despite the understandable belief among some that the CIF-Southern Section office has a voice in the matter.

“Lagarde had a valid change of address,” Thom Simmons, the CIF-SS media director, said. “We received paperwork from the school indicating that the `family unit’ (Lagarde and his father) lived in the Poly district and then moved to the mother’s home, which is in the Los Alamitos district.

“It is up to Los Alamitos to verify the validity of the address. It is up to Poly to file a protest if it feels the transfer was athletically motivated. Poly didn’t.”

Well, of course not, because Poly routinely takes in transfers from other schools and it isn’t about to get in a snit over a kid – or his parents – who decided he didn’t want to be a Jackrabbit anymore.

“It was his right to transfer, and we don’t hold anyone back who wants to go to another school,” Lara said.

Lagarde joined the Griffins’ junior varsity, playing two games. Last Thursday, he replaced senior Dylan Cook as Los Al’s starting quarterback and threw for 195 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns in an easy Sunset League win.

Cook, who completed 59 percent of his passes this season for 505 yards and helped Los Alamitos to a 5-1 record, quit the Griffins when John Barnes promoted Lagarde to the starting job.

Makes you want to take a shower, doesn’t it?

A source at Poly, talking on background, said that Lagarde’s family was bothered in part by the constant sniping and spreading of blame among Poly’s fans and family over their 1-3 start. If the Poly crowd at games was a movie, it would be R-rated.

A CIF source, also on background, said the CIF-SS believed Lagarde would be ruled an athletically motivated transfer and ineligible, but Los Al came with the proper paperwork and Poly didn’t object.

The CIF-SS office shouldn’t be blamed here. It has no enforcement officer; the entire staff numbers about 15 to cover 576 schools in the section. The CIF-SS is a member organization and it relies on the members to do the right thing.

Most don’t. There’s a certain honor among thieves not to protest when a kid moves on, and some schools – like the parochial private schools – have become adept at making sure parents of prospective parents have their paperwork in line to say why their child will benefit academically from the change.

A few do. Jake Thompson is a fine Long Beach State pitcher who played at Mayfair as a sophomore then transferred to Wilson. Mayfair claimed it was athletically motivated, contested the transfer, and Thompson had to sit out his junior season. He then decided to accelerate his high school degree and skip his senior season so he could become a Dirtbag.

Attempts to reach the Lagarde family were unsuccessful. But there’s little reason to expect anything but the standard response – that they want the best for their child and their son is hardly the first to transfer with athletic opportunities foremost in his mind. Amen to that. If I had $1 for each California high school athlete who transferred, I could bail out the state in its budget crisis.

It’s just hard to imagine what was wrong at Serra, which has a powerhouse program, or Poly, because you know the Jackrabbits’ rough 2009 season is an aberration and they’ll bounce back.

Another CIF source, speaking on background, noted that the party most at blame here is the state. Imagine that, Sacramento bungling something.

There was a move a few years ago to tighten up transfer rules in the wake of some obvious recruiting (i.e., theft) of athletes by powerhouse schools. But the state instead supported the freshman rule (they can transfer for whatever reason) and backed off any tougher restrictions because they feared litigation and the inherent legal costs.

“Call your state legislator if you have a problem,” the source said. “They’re the ones who could end this issue once and for all.”

Until they do, expect parents to call coaches to see if there’s room for their son who just lost his starting job or doesn’t like his coach.

And follow the bouncing quarterback.

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