Cathedral High‘s football team has been banned from the 2023 playoffs because of rule violations, the Southern Section announced on Friday.
It’s the first major decision by new Southern Section commissioner Mike West. The football program was placed on probation for violating bylaws involving valid residential change, administrative oversight and playoff eligibility.
“We’re working to try to enforce the rules the best we can,” West said.
Arturo Lopez, the school’s long-time soccer coach, took over as principal this year after the departure of Brother John Montgomery, who had been principal for 25 years. Lopez had been vice principal. Cathedral’s top two administrators, Lopez and president Martin Farfan, continue to serve as coaches. Farfan runs the cross-country program.
“I take ownership of the athletic department,” Lopez said Thursday night about accepting responsibility for the violations.
On Aug. 28, the school announced that football coach Anthony Jefferson had left the program two games into the season. Jefferson cited personal reasons.
Cathedral is 1-3 entering its game against Bishop Alemany on Friday night under interim coach Vince Jefferson (no relation). The school has had a proud football tradition, with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young serving as the Phantoms’ quarterback for two seasons before transferring to Mater Dei.
Players and parents were informed of the coming sanctions on Thursday. One parent said her son “broke down” after hearing the news. Some parents want the school to appeal the decision.
Anthony Jefferson took over for Kevin Pearson in 2018. Pearson was head coach for 22 years and is now at Warren.
“It’s very unfortunate for the kids who have invested in the program and are not able to participate in the playoffs,” Pearson said. “I feel they are in good hands with the current coaching staff.”