Gunn administration cancel Gunn vs. Paly football game due to student misconduct

 

On Friday, Sept. 10, Gunn administrators canceled the Gunn vs. Paly football game in the fourth quarter due to Paly students rushing the Gunn stands, inciting chaos on both sides of the football field. The junior varsity team played at 4:30 p.m. without any issues, losing by a score of 27-0. The varsity game that started at 7:00 p.m., however, was cut short at around 9:50 p.m. At the time of cancelation, Gunn was losing by a score of 41-0.

Paly spectators crossing the football field to reach the Gunn side. (Michael Zhang)

Since school rivalries would be a major factor during the game, both Gunn and Paly administrations sent their students messages on Schoology about good sportsmanship prior to the night. “Gunn and Paly administrators and athletic programs have been working together to ensure a positive experience for athletes, students, officials and spectators,” the messages read. Similar statements from the California Interscholastic Federation were also announced at multiple points throughout the evening. 

For the first three quarters of the game, Junior Class President Nathan Levy observed largely positive support from the Gunn crowd. “Everyone was having a lot of fun, even though [Gunn] wasn’t doing so well,” he said. “People were cheering and [holding up] signs and posters.”

However, with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, a large crowd of Paly students ran behind the goalpost located on the far side of the football field next to Bol Park and into the Gunn bleachers. Although many were prevented from entering due to barricades, some Paly students were still able to enter the Gunn stands. Junior Sophia Yen was in the bleachers during the Paly student rush. “Throughout the game, there would be a few moments where Paly students ran through the Gunn section and got booed, but it was definitely different with so many more students,” she said. 

According to Levy, the situation became dangerous when both schools began to rush to the others’ stands. “There was a lot of booing,” he said. “People were hitting and pushing each other around and yelling, which was definitely not okay.”

Throughout the game, there would be a few moments where Paly students ran through the Gunn section and got booed, but it was definitely different with so many more students.”

— Junior Sophia Yen

After seeing Paly students begin to rush into the Gunn stands, Gunn administrators directed the Paly crowd to return to their side of the field. During this time, play on the field was paused, as all eyes were on the situation in the stands. An announcement was eventually made that the match would not be able to continue, and with five minutes and three seconds left of play time in the fourth quarter, the game was canceled. 

While safety concerns primarily drove the decision for Gunn administrators to shut down the game according to Principal Wendy Stratton, students—including Paly junior Felicia Buchholz—were not aware of the complete situation. “I thought the game was canceled due to a mercy rule, where if a team is losing really badly, they stop the game before finishing the last quarter,” she said.  

Both the Gunn and Paly football teams were unhappy about their rivalry game being cut short, according to junior Devin Sidhu. 

Though the fans’ unsportsmanlike behavior caused the game’s cancellation, the players still shook each other’s hands before closing out the night. 

Gunn and Paly administrators are currently working to formally address Friday’s football game. In the meantime, Stratton expressed her gratitude to both the Gunn football team and spectators in a Schoology update on Saturday afternoon. “I’m very proud of our student leadership and student body for who you are and the strength of your collective character,” she said. “Thanks for setting the right tone, welcoming our neighbors and making the event, for the most part, successful.”

On a similar note, senior Sports Commissioner Pooja Bucklin, who worked on publicizing the game beforehand and rallied the student section during it, thought the game was an overall positive experience. “Even though we lost it was still super fun to have a big crowd and cheer, which I hope we can continue at other games,” she said.