Coach Rusty McDonald of No. 15 El Dorado has removed four key starters, all seniors, for their involvement in a prank while at a baseball tournament in Atascadero during spring break.
"There were no drugs or alcohol involved," McDonald said today. "They're kids. They didn't do anything malicious. But the bottom line is that they violated team rules. They knew the rules. Their parents knew the rules."
El Dorado (17-5, 11-3) had a comfortable Sierra Valley Conference lead before the players' removal but has since lost twice to No. 20 Galt and still faces tough league games against River City, Vista del Lago and Union Mine.
The Cougars' chances of reaching the D-IV section championship for a third straight year also are in jeopardy.
"I hate what I had to do, but I don't hate what I did," McDonald said. "Obviously it's a huge blow to our team."