Mulvey’s mistake puts Wildcats on restriction

As a first-year head coach, Sean Mulvey read and re-read the bulletin sent out to schools by the Colorado High School Activities Association that includes various rules and participation dates.

The Fruita Monument High School football coach, though, missed one key bullet point, and as a result, the Wildcats have been placed on restriction this season. As of now, they are ineligible for postseason play.

“It didn’t stick out to me when I read it,” Mulvey said of allowing the Wildcats to wear helmets during their voluntary team camp the week before the Aug. 15 official start of practice.

“You can wear (helmets) until July 31 and then it’s no equipment from August 1 until the first day of practice. It was clear when I looked at it again.”

Mulvey said the players wore helmets the first two days of their voluntary team camp the week of Aug. 8.

When school officials realized the Wildcats had violated a rule, they immediately reported it to CHSAA and started planning disciplinary action.

At first, Fruita Monument Athletic Director Denny Squibb and Mulvey discussed the Wildcats not wearing helmets the first two days when practice began Aug. 15, then delaying when the team went to full pads later that week.

However, Fruita is playing a “zero week” game, which had Squibb concerned about the players’ safety.

CHSAA rules call for the first two days of practice to be in helmets and jerseys only, then full pads the third day, but no player-to-player contact until the fourth day of practice.

Had they not gone to full pads until late last week, the Wildcats would have less than one week of full-contact drills before playing a game.

“(Mulvey) asked me what my thoughts were and I said ‘I won’t make that decision, CHSAA will.’ When does it become a safety issue? (CHSAA) had forgotten about the zero week, so they waived that penalty.”

The Wildcats play at Broomfield on Friday.

Zero week allows teams to schedule a game the weekend before the start of the regular season (Sept. 1) when scheduling conflicts would prevent them from playing a full season.

Safety was foremost on Mulvey’s mind when he had the Wildcats wear helmets in camp.

“It was an oversight and I thought it would keep kids more safe,” he said. “As soon as we took them off, a couple of kids broke their noses getting hit in the face with the football.”

The Wildcats will petition CHSAA in October to be taken off restriction and become eligible for the playoffs. As long as the program doesn’t have any additional violations and has a plan in place to avoid any further instances, the restriction is usually lifted.

“In (Mulvey’s) defense, he was reading the bulletin and it said if you go to a team camp you can wear helmets, and that’s what he was going by, it was a team camp,” Squibb said. “But it says until July 31, and then you have to collect (helmets). I showed him where it was; he just read it wrong.”

Mulvey took responsibility for the mistake with his players.

“That’s where it falls on your shoulders,” he said. “Unfortunately the kids and the staff that have been working so hard has to pay the price with you. That’s part of the team mentality.

“I realize what I did and I talked to my kids. I made a mistake and it’s my fault. I have no one to look at but myself. I told them I was sorry and we’ll get it fixed.”


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