San Francisco parents forced Richmond to miss a high school football game over safety concerns.
Seven Galileo football players were pulled out of Friday’s game by their parents – much to the disappointment of Richmond head coach Bryan Fisher.
Low roster numbers and safety concerns are realities that high school football coaches must grapple with on a regular basis in today’s world. Teams with already thin rosters struggled to field enough players to take over the field less than a month into the 2022 season.
One such situation hit Richmond last week when the Oilers didn’t have enough healthy linemen to face Concord and had no choice but to give up and fall to 0-3 in the season.
A week later, the Oilers were granted a loss win due to low roster numbers but unusual circumstances.
Galileo head coach Nick Naudain told Richmond he would not have enough healthy and eligible players for Friday’s non-league competition after seven parents on his team banned their children from traveling to the East Bay for the 7 p.m. game .
“I wanted to play the game, but I’m not in the business of alienating our parents,” Naudain said.
Galileo will end the non-league game without a win after Friday’s defeat. Earlier this week, Naudain only knew of one player who would not be making the journey.
“His parents wouldn’t let him go to the Terra Linda game [in San Rafael], either. They didn’t want him out at night,” Naudain said.
A second parent raised concerns on Monday. By Wednesday, that number had risen to seven, leaving the Lions short of the 18 players required for the game.
“I spoke to her principal and he explained to me that there had been incidents at other schools in her district recently, but that didn’t convince our parents,” Naudain said.
The Standard has reached out through the school coach to parents who have put their children out of the game.
A shooting in Richmond halted the Oilers’ homecoming game in 2012, but there have been no incidents at RHS football games since.
Games at other schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) have been riddled with violence in recent years. In 2015, neighbor Kennedy hosted Lincoln in a game called out after shots were fired near campus, and in 2019, three teenagers were injured in a shootout outside of a game between De Anza and Pinole Valley. In response, WCCUSD moved kick-off times from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the remainder of the 2019 season.
“People have this perception of us because of other schools in the district,” said Richmond head coach Fisher. “We didn’t have those problems. Our problem in Richmond is that we don’t have enough kids who want to play football.”
“We don’t see this as a win”
Those low numbers cost the Oilers their Week 4 trip to Concord. You now have a profit on your ledger, but a hollow one at that.
“We don’t consider this a win,” Fisher said. “We’re looking forward to our first win.”
Richmond was on an 18-game losing streak, including two losses by waiver. Galileo’s resignation marks Fisher’s first win as varsity head coach, but it leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
“They had concerns about potential community violence, particularly shootings and explosions,” Fisher said. “In my opinion, this is completely unjustified. We have one of the safest campuses in our county. I bring my children to practice regularly and allow them to interact with the students and the community without hesitation. I’m not taking my kids to San Francisco and I never will unless things change drastically.”
Fisher went on to state that some of the concerns about Richmond are valid, although many have been exaggerated by the media, such as the film Coach Carter.
“We’re not trying to eliminate prejudice. We’re trying to fix our community,” Fisher added. “Some of this bias is justified by past events. Our community isn’t perfect, but it’s ours and we love it.”
Richmond has hosted other San Francisco schools in recent years without incident. Lowell made the trek in 2016, and both Burton and Washington visited for non-league games in 2017 and again in 2018.