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Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule

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Grif­fin Lau­ri­tano has played foot­ball with his Ever­green team­mates since they were fourth-graders.

Now a high school senior, Lau­ri­tano quar­ter­backed the Cougars this fall to a play­off berth — one he won’t be eli­gi­ble to play in.

“It real­ly is heart­break­ing to go on a run like this against good teams to make the play­offs, and then have to sit on the side­line,” he said. “It’s demor­al­iz­ing.”

IMG 3250 - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule
Pho­to cour­tesy of Tim Murray/Alta43images

Ever­green senior quar­ter­back Grif­fin Lau­ri­tano, pic­tured in a 34–20 vic­to­ry against Conifer on Sat­ur­day at Trail­blaz­er Sta­di­um, is inel­i­gi­ble for the post­sea­son due to CHSAA trans­fer rules. Lau­ri­tano moved to Geor­gia briefly when CHSAA can­celed its fall foot­ball sea­son, but returned to play for Ever­green when CHSAA reversed its ini­tial deci­sion.

A Col­orado prep foot­ball sea­son mired by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, and the state’s inde­ci­sion to play in the fall, com­bined to cre­ate an unfor­tu­nate fin­ish for Lau­ri­tano. He’ll watch from the side­lines Fri­day when sev­enth-seed­ed Ever­green faces No. 2 Holy Fam­i­ly in the first round of the Class 3A state play­offs due to a CHSAA trans­fer rule — despite Lau­ri­tano play­ing four years of var­si­ty sports for Ever­green.

It start­ed back in August when CHSAA ini­tial­ly post­poned its foot­ball sea­son to spring. Lau­ri­tano, Evergreen’s start­ing quar­ter­back since late in his sopho­more year, had dreams of earn­ing a col­lege schol­ar­ship. He feared it wouldn’t hap­pen in Col­orado.

“I knew I had to have a good senior sea­son,” Lau­ri­tano said. “If that wasn’t going to come until the spring, with a lot of states still play­ing foot­ball in the fall, I knew I was going to fall behind and not be able to get my name out there (in recruit­ing) as much as I want­ed to. I had to explore options else­where.”

Lauritano’s solu­tion? Mov­ing to Pow­der Springs, Ga., where his aunt was a teacher at Hill­grove High School in the state’s largest clas­si­fi­ca­tion (7A). He wasn’t alone in his Col­orado exo­dus. Sev­er­al high-pro­file foot­ball play­ers, includ­ing Grand­view run­ning back Noah Schmidt and High­lands Ranch QB Jake Rub­ley, also moved out-of-state to play a fall sea­son.

Lau­ri­tano prac­ticed with Hill­grove for about sev­en weeks and was eli­gi­ble in two games, but he did not play as a reserve quar­ter­back. Then CHSAA announced a reversed deci­sion to rein­sti­tute a fall foot­ball sea­son, and that changed every­thing. Lau­ri­tano sought a return to his home school.

CHSAA grant­ed his request but with “restrict­ed var­si­ty eli­gi­bil­i­ty” under a new bylaw estab­lished in May, said Jim Thy­fault, Jef­f­co Pub­lic Schools’ exec­u­tive direc­tor of ath­let­ics. The pan­dem­ic pro­vi­sion allows for incom­ing trans­fer stu­dents that are seniors to become imme­di­ate­ly eli­gi­ble — but only for the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Lau­ri­tano agreed to those terms upon his return to Col­orado. How­ev­er, his fam­i­ly and Ever­green play­ers argued his sit­u­a­tion mer­it­ed an excep­tion when his team clinched a play­off spot. Lau­ri­tano played a major role with 20 touch­downs.

CHSAA — after field­ing dozens of emails lob­by­ing for his eli­gi­bil­i­ty — declined the request.

“CHSAA’s bylaws are pri­mar­i­ly intend­ed to police bad behav­ior,” said John Lau­ri­tano, Griffin’s father. “Our argu­ment is that Grif­fin isn’t a Geor­gia trans­fer stu­dent. He did what he had to do when CHSAA can­celed the sea­son. … He’s a kid who has lived in Ever­green and played sports here his entire life.”

Those fac­tors were ulti­mate­ly not con­sid­ered when apply­ing strin­gent CHSAA rules.

“We cer­tain­ly feel bad for the young man that he’s in that sit­u­a­tion, but he under­stood when he returned from Geor­gia what the bylaws indi­cat­ed and the CHSAA com­mis­sion­er (Rhon­da Blan­ford-Green) was pret­ty upfront about that,” Thy­fault said. “We can’t make up rules on the run. For any trans­fers, we have to fol­low the bylaws. That’s what’s been done in this case.”

Ever­green (4–2) enters its first-round matchup against Holy Fam­i­ly (6–0) as sig­nif­i­cant under­dogs, espe­cial­ly with­out Lau­ri­tano. But it won’t tar­nish the lega­cy for a team that first-year Ever­green coach Matt Van Praag described as “a real­ly spe­cial group of kids” who endured a six-hour road trip to Duran­go after con­sec­u­tive Ever­green games were can­celed by COVID-19.

Lau­ri­tano is still weigh­ing his options to play foot­ball in col­lege with inter­est from sev­er­al FCS and high-aca­d­e­m­ic Divi­sion-III pro­grams. On Fri­day night, he’ll serve as part-coach, part-cheer­leader as an observ­er.

“I was def­i­nite­ly grate­ful to be able to come back and play at Ever­green for the time that I did,” Lau­ri­tano said. “It’s just unfor­tu­nate that I can’t fin­ish the sea­son out with them.”

dp sports?d=yIl2AUoC8zA - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule dp sports?i=vMsQNKUsymg:XNFZpuTSdTY:F7zBnMyn0Lo - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule dp sports?d=qj6IDK7rITs - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule dp sports?i=vMsQNKUsymg:XNFZpuTSdTY:V sGLiPBpWU - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule

vMsQNKUsymg - Evergreen QB Griffin Lauritano, who briefly left Colorado after fall football cancelation, forced to sit out from playoffs due to transfer rule

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