When news broke that a Montclair High School football player had been arrested for suspicion of submitting falsified documents, forcing the team to forfeit five of its games last season, including one to South Pasadena, Jeff Chi began to wonder what the player’s impact might have been on the 2021 CIF Division 13 semifinal game in which the Tigers lost to the Cavaliers in the final four seconds, 28-21.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Elijah Nathaniel Frisco, using the name Eihly Cheung to enroll at Montclair, was arrested by the Montclair Police Department recently and booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga for falsifying his birth certificate.
“It’s one of those what if stories, what if he wasn’t there?” said Chi, South Pasadena’s head coach. “Would that have changed the outcome?”
Frisco had already graduated from high school when he continued to play this season, according to the news report and Chaffey Joint Union High School District Superintendent Mathew Holton.
Following Montclair’s 32-20 victory over Pomona on September 2 of this year, an investigation began when social media unveiled that the team might have a player who had already graduated.
In part, in a statement Holton wrote: “Montclair High School administration was notified late Friday, September 2, that a player on the Montclair High School football team was allegedly a 19-year-old who already completed high school. School officials contacted the parents of the individual to seek information regarding the allegations.”
According to news reports, the player was enrolled at Montclair part of last season and will forfeit five games from last season and one this year.
As a result of him being an ineligible player, Montclair, a 9-5 finisher at the end of the season, must not only forfeit its game against South Pasadena, but to four other teams it recorded victories in 2021 – Industry Workman, Hacienda Heights Wilson, Hemet West Valley, San Gabriel along with Pomona this season.
“It’s something we’ll never know if that Montclair player wasn’t in the game would it have helped us in going to the championship game last year,” Chi said. “We’ll never find out, we’ll never know. I’m sure the coach and the administrators were not aware of it. It was just an individual who chose to falsify a birth certificate so they could play another year. Unfortunately, we’re the opponent that had to face that in the semifinals.”
What it means for the Tigers, “is I guess we get the win,” explained Chi, referring to the forfeit victory, “but what does that mean for us? Does it mean we go to the championship game? We can’t really replay that. Are we considered the runner-up then? It is what it is.”
The forfeit win would give South Pasadena an 8-5 overall record and a 9-5 mark had they won the CIF crown, 8-6 with a loss. Arlington High from the Riverside area captured the title.
“Again, it’s just something we will never know,” said Chi, who has got his team focused on this season. The Tigers are off to a 4-0 start and travel to play 2-2 Alhambra Friday night.