Why was Tesoro coach Brian Barnes fired? Was it over a cheap shot?

Was Tesoro head football coach Brian Barnes really fired over a controversial play earlier in the season when one of his players took out the El Toro High kicker? That’s one of the rumors floating around, but hard to believe a coach with Barnes’ track record of success would be fired over a cheap shot. Nobody at El Toro is explaining why Barnes was removed with a 6-3 record and chance of making the playoffs. Maybe there is simply more to it, but you can read the Orange County Register story and decide for yourself. I posted the video that caused all the controversy below.

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  • http://twitter.com/sgvtrib_Mike Mike Robledo

    The hit was uncalled for… but not a fire-able offense imo.. would it really surprise anyone if he was fired for not meeting their lofty expectations?

  • Tar’en Supporter

    From the article, it appeared the coach, or someone connected to the program, tried and failed to use an on-line class program to bring in out of the district. That was before the season, but it could take awhile for something like that to work it’s way through the personnel process.

    The cheap shot on the kicker (which a commenter said was repeated the whole game and celebrated by the Tesoro coaches) should be a problem, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of problem that would lead to a mid-season firing.

  • AramT

    You see that same type of block at all levels of football now. I just saw it in a college game this past weekend.

  • FredJ

    Let’s get one thing straight, it was a total cheap shot. Barnes should have kicked him out of the game right then and there. But I tend to agree with Tar’en Supporter, maybe the findings of internal school investigation led to this. Whatever it was, it was bad enough to not let him finish the season.

  • Don

    The NFL has seen fit to make provisions against this kind of play:

    Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7(a):
    Defenseless players who are protected from dangerous hard hits
    include the following, from the Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7(a) . . .
    (6) kicker/punter during the kick or
    during the return…

    The FED (and the NCAA) have not.
    Silly, since this type of play is always strategic, (taking out the
    other team’s kicker), rather than tactical, (preventing a player from
    making a tackle on the return). If Coach Barnes or one of his
    assistants directed the player to cheap shot a defenseless kicker, he
    deserves all he gets. If the player did it on his own initiative,
    corrective measures should be taken by the Tesoro football staff.

  • Colt74

    I’ll probably be the only person who see’s nothing wrong with the guy taking out the Kicker. We are ALL taught while on the field and until the whistle blows to protect ourselves. Maybe if the kicker was watching the other players than where the ball was going? How many games have you watched where the KICKER is the one that gets a good lay out hit on one of the other teams players? I’ve seen tons over the years.
    And the firing was over recruiting violations. In a couple of days all will be made clear.

    • Not So Fast My Friend

      Colt, I gotta agree with you on this one. That’s not a fire-your-coach-offense. Has to be more and like you alluded to, there obviously is. Good coach though.

  • Jefe

    He wasn’t fired for that hit.

  • Don


    Did you watch the video? Classic example of why the NFL considers kickers “defenseless” when just finishing a kick. The kid starts off with his head down then toddles a couple steps and BOOM, the other player pops him head to face, hands finishing above the shoulders, (both of which the NCAA and FED considers “targeting”). Probably why he got the unsportsmanlike call the Register referred to.

    Bigger point is the Kicker wasn’t part of the coverage on the play and there isn’t really any reason to block him 60 yards downfield of the ball. That is, of course, unless you want to try and injure him and remove the kid who punts, kicks off, and has scored 60+ points so far this year from the contest. Efren Herrera aside, the kick off guy is almost never used as anything more than a safety on KO’s and most of the time, is not very good at that.

    A coach who directs players to take cheap shots, (presuming the player in question was told to do so by a coach), should be punished. My points aren’t about Barne’s firing, I’m down with the other issues being the cause. I’m talking about cheap shots and potential injuries being caused at the direction of a High School coach.

    • Colt74

      Don, Of coarse I watched the video. I also stand my my opinion. The kicker was watching where his kick went and not paying attention. So if we make kickers out of bounds for hitting what’s next ? How about making it so you can’t hit any receivers till after they catch the ball and have made 5 yards progress? 10,000 times more receivers are laid out by the defense than any kickers are. The problem is in high school the kick off team and the receiving team are so damn close to each other to start with. That means you have to be heads up and not only looking at the ball up in the air.

      • Don


        I think forbidding the hitting of
        kickers or receivers might be a little excessive but would suggest
        the rules already set by the NFL may be a step in the right
        direction. Like the attempts to reduce head and neck injuries,
        getting the rules and referee’s mechanics right takes time but it’s
        worth it. And again, FTR my problem wasn’t so much with the cheap
        shot but with a High School coach trying to improve his team’s
        chances taking an opposing team’s player out. Wrong any way you want
        to cut it.

  • http://twitter.com/srammy8 Steve Ramirez

    As I look at the video, I would say that not only is it not a cheap shot, I’m not sure if it’s a penalty, either. As as been pointed out the kicker, after kicking the ball, was not paying attention. He forgot after he kicks the ball, he’s still a football player and can be hit. Don left out some key information with the NFL rule, it states that after the ball is kicked you can’t hit the kicker/punter with a shot to the head, or face mask area. And it should be noted that certain rules in the NFL are in place at that level and now at the lower level of colleges and high school because the speed of the game allows for more violent collisions.

    • Don

      The Tesoro player was penalized for bringing his helmet and arms into contact with the El Toro kicker’s facemask, illegal everywhere. This is what caused the ET kid’s head to fly back. Had the kicker been blocked legally, that is below the shoulder pads, his head would more likely have snapped forward.

      Fortunately, Steve isn’t an official.
      I gave you the digest version in my first post. Here is the current rule. And I am still trying to figure this out: “And it should be noted that certain rules in the NFL are in place at that level and now at the lower level of colleges and high school because the speed of the game allows for more violent collisions. “

      7: Players in a Defenseless Posture.
      It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.
      Players in a defenseless posture are:
      A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;
      A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch
      and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player;
      A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress
      has been stopped;
      A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air;
      A player on the ground;
      A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return (Also see Article 6(g) for additional restrictions against a kicker/punter);
      A quarterback at any time after a change of possession (Also
      see Article 8(f) for additional restrictions against a quarterback after a change of possession);
      A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side
      A player who is protected from an illegal crackback block (see Article 2).
      Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:
      Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or
      Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or
      forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body; or
      Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (1) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (2) uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) to initiate forcible contact
      against any part of his opponent’s body. Note: This does not apply to contact against a runner, unless the runner is still considered to be a defenseless player, as defined in Article 7 above.

      Note: The provisions of (2) do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent.

      Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards and an automatic First Down. The player may be disqualified if the action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant.

      • http://twitter.com/srammy8 Steve Ramirez

        Don, I know that provision, but from the video is not clear that the player hit the kicker in the face mask, which is why I don’t view it as a cheap shot, just a physical football play. Don, certain rules are in place in the NFL because the speed of the athletes creates violent collisions, like the kickoff and onside kick rules. You don’t have those type of violent collisions at the lower levels. Look at this way, if a top fuel dragster driving 300 mph on a drag strip comes in contact with the side wall, the driver is likely to be severely injured, maybe killed. If your Ford Fiesta driving 55 on the freeway hits the retainer wall, you probably just get a fender bender. Of course, in the latter, it depends on your angle into the wall. That’s why the horse collar rule took a few years to trickle down to the high school level. The NHSF was unsure if it was needed, since they are less elite athletes playing HS football across the board. The same reason is why the intentional grounding rule is different at the high school level than in FBS and the NFL.

        • Colt74

          I have watched that video probably a good 20 times. At the 57 second mark the player in question lowers his shoulders and is attacking the kids chest. He did not hit him in the facemask. Watch it yourself and freeze it at the moment of contact. I do believe with every molecule though that the kid was sent on a headhunter mission…after the hit the kid doesn’t really look to go after anyone else.

        • Don

          OK, one more time: I have no problem with violent contact during a football game so long as it is within the confines of the rules agreed upon by the participants. That said, it appears as though both the Umpire and the SJ working the game thought there WAS some illegal contact as they both flagged the play. A friend who saw the play on cable later told me that Cox reported the infraction was for striking a blow above the pads with both arms and helmet.

          I haven’t seen the clip more than 4 or 5 times much less 20 but it’s pretty clear that the kicker’s head snaps back, as if struck, on contact. Let’s put that another way, so that Steve might better understand. Steve, say you tell Connie Kalitta to let you do a couple burnouts in his gasser and he punches you in the face. Head snaps back, right? If Connie had socked you in the chest, your head would have moved forward as your body was driven back. Got it? We are talking about pretty well accepted physical laws here, that is except for the Warren Commission and you. Remember, look, think, type. Repeat as needed.

          OK, now to MY real issue, and of course the original topic, (neither of which were ever the legality of the contact), but whether coach Barnes should be fired (punished) for sending a kid out to try and remove an opponent’s key player. I stated Barnes ought to get whatever is dished out for setting this in
          motion. There is no place in High School football for the strategic elimination of another team’s players. Take a look at Steve Fryers video on todays OCVarsity website. He makes the point much better than can.

          • http://twitter.com/srammy8 Steve Ramirez

            Don, while I agree with you on the Warren Commission, it should be noted that the head will whiplash on a collision like that, whether the head or neck area was hit. Dale Earnhardt was not hit in the head by a projectile when he was killed, but by the intense whiplash of a sudden stop after achieving high speed. The head is a heavy, more so when you wear a helmet, so when a part of the mid-body his hit, the head will snap back in the direction of the hit. I believe, like Colt74, that his was a hit to the chest area, so I don’t view it as a cheap shot, just a physical football play, which is part of the sport. I see that this is where we differ. That’s OK. Have a happy All Saints Day.

  • Kurt Stone

    I agree that the hit was a total cheap shot. If Barnes gave the order then he should be punished. But I truly believe that the firing was excessive. This is football, and the punishment does not fit the crime. It is still the kickers responsibility to protect himself. It’s not as if the hit came from behind. It came staright up and the kicker saw him coming. Barnes should have been warned and maybe suspended a game.

  • SGV_Football_Fan

    If coaches are fired for this type of stuff, look out. Several coaches in the Valley would already be gone. Big Lou and crew need to be careful.

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