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Poor punch, worse dive mar California football finale

Prep Rally

Two players produced a nasty finish to the season finale for two California teams, and neither player involved came out looking very good.

With Palo Alto (Calif.) Gunn High rolling toward a 54-23 rout of San Jose (Calif.) Lynbrook High, Gunn receiver Skylar Larson brought in an impressive touchdown grab. The catch marked the fourth time Larson reached the end zone in the game, and it clearly pushed the Lynbrook defenders over the top.

That was made evident when one of those aforementioned defensive backs gave Larson a massive shove in the end zone, sending the receiver toppling head-over-heels. One would have hoped that Larson would have shrugged that indignity off, particularly considering where it happened (i.e., the end zone, where he was celebrating a touchdown).

Instead, the diminutive senior receiver -- he stands just 5-foot-9 -- couldn't hold himself back, throwing a punch at the defender who had just knocked him down (in multiple playbacks of the video you see above, Prep Rally could never ascertain the jersey number of the player who was punched) … and sending that defender falling backwards in one of the most comical flops Prep Rally can remember in high school football since, well, ever.

Go ahead and watch Larson land his punch again, and then watch the reaction of the player he hits. There is literally more than a second between when the punch lands on the side of the player's helmet and when he falls. In fact, he takes a full, calm step backward and then topples downward as if he has been shot.

Clearly, the only possible appropriate response was the one given by parents in the stands. It started with, "Ah, hell no," and wrapped up moments later -- after the defender had gone down -- with, "What the hell?"

Naturally, the flop becomes even more ridiculous when you recognize that the punching victim was hit squarely in the helmet. Really, what kind of a punch to the helmet could force a player to fall over like that? It's as if he saw Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez pull this stunt in October and wanted to try it on for size himself.

Of course, that doesn't make Larson's punch any more understandable. There's no place for that kind of action in high school football, full stop. Still, there isn't a place for the kind of fake injury antics the Lynbrook defender pulled either, leaving both players to walk away from their varsity football season with a sizable amount of metaphorical egg on their face.

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