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By Aram Tolegian
CIF has denied Diamond Bar High School football player Antonio “Noodles” Hull’s appeals bid and the junior standout will not be eligible to play for the Brahmas varsity football team until Nov. 16.
Hull, the Tribune’s Newcomer of the Year last fall, left West Covina in February and transferred to Diamond Bar. West Covina challenged the transfer on grounds that it was athletically motivated and presented the CIF-Southern Section with an email from Hull’s father as proof.
The Southern Section declared Hull ineligible prompting Hull’s family to hire Orange County attorney Chris Prussak in hopes of winning their appeal with the executive committee.
“I’ve never seen a high school go after a kid like this,” said Prussak, who will now discuss with Hull’s family whether a lawsuit will be filed. “It was like a girlfriend being dumped. The bottom line is that West Covina had an ax to grind with Mr. Hull. They put CIF on alert this transfer was happening way before it was done.
“Shame on West Covina High School when you have these adult coaches going after a child like this.”
Hull made a splash when he arrived at West Covina for his freshman year. A former standout in the Snoop Youth Football League, Hull had many suitors before he enrolled at West Covina to start his career.
As a freshman, Hull starred on the freshmen team before being called up to the varsity team after turning 14 years old. Hull saw limited action, but by his sophomore season he was one of the top players on the team.
Hull bounced between quarterback and running back on offense last season, and also started at safety on defense. His big performances in wins over Paramount and Muir helped West Covina advance to the semifinals of the Southeast Division playoffs.
Shortly after the season, rumors swirled that Hull would leave West Covina for Diamond Bar. By February, Hull’s exit had become reality. Soon after receiving the transfer paperwork, West Covina challenged Hull’s move.
Hull was declared ineligible by CIF and lost his first appeal before his parents hired Prussak to represent their son before the executive committee.
According to Prussak, attorneys representing CIF and the moderator were present at the appeals hearing, a maneuver he had not seen when arguing eligibility cases in the past.
“I just felt it was an unfair, unfortunate and intimidating environment for a child to be in,” Prussak said. “I respect CIF’s decision. They have a very tough job trying to interpret these rules.
“We did the best we could. We definitely laid down our facts, our case and our soul for CIF and explained to them why the transfer was necessary.”
With his all-important junior season in terms of college recruiting now lost, Hull can either play at the junior varsity or begin getting ready for his senior season.
“Our focus now is to get his grades to keep improving and get him into a four-year college with or without football,” Diamond Bar head coach Ryan Maine said. “He is a great kid on our team and an unselfish leader.
“I will promise that Antonio will be taken care of here.”
Hull has been practicing with the Brahmas and participating in summer passing games. Diamond Bar’s regular season ends Nov. 8 against Walnut, thus making Hull ineligible to play until the second round of the Southeast Division playoffs if the Brahmas get that far.
Diamond Bar hosts West Covina on Oct. 4.