As the No. 1 high school quarterback prospect in the Class of 2019, Spencer Rattler has been in the media spotlight more than just about any prep football player in the country. He has even had cameras following every move of his senior season, for a planned Netflix documentary.
But now, nine games into the season, that same media scrutiny has become his worst enemy.
The senior at Pinnacle High School, who earlier this season broke Arizona’s high school passing record, won’t be padding his stats in the regular-season finale Friday against Boulder Creek High School. He has been declared ineligible for that game.
He also won’t be leading his Pioneer team into the state playoffs. His season is done.
Rattler has been ruled ineligible for the rest of the season after reportedly violating a Paradise Valley Unified School District code of conduct policy. While neither the school or the district has provided any details about the violation, the 5-star recruit has apologized to his teammates and then reached out to the Oklahoma football program, to which he committed during the summer before his junior year, to find out whether his misstep could effect his recruitment.
His goal, he says, is to be the first freshman in almost 30 years to start for the Sooners. Now he’s probably more concerned about keeping his spot on the roster. He hasn’t signed his letter of intent yet.
Without knowing the specifics of the violation, it’s difficult for Pinnacle fans or the public in general, to form an opinion in the matter. But a ruling that removes the best player from a team that has a legitimate shot at a state title would indicate a reasonably serious violation. The Pioneers are ranked No. 2 in the 6A conference and will likely be the No. 2 seed in next week’s state playoffs.
Rattler has been the team’s starter all four years, but never led the Pioneers to a state title. This year was going to be his best opportunity. The Pioneers are 8-1, with their only loss at the hands of a California school earlier in the season.
A red flag popped up last week when Rattler was held out of the game against Chaparral High on Senior Night, a game of huge significance because it was being televised on ESPNU. The story was that it was a sprained knee that kept him on the sideline, but now it appears the code violation was the more likely reason.
Pinnacle won that game, 23-7, against a Chaparral squad that was also missing its 5-star quarterback, Jack Miller, who actually was out with an injury. The game turned out to be a complete bust for the network, which had been hyping the game as a battle between two of the nation’s top prep quarterbacks.
But it’s Rattler who must deal with a much bigger disappointment. Generally regarded as a well-grounded youngster, on and off the field (he carries a 3.8 GPA), he will no doubt learn from this mistake.
But, in the meantime, his team will go forward without its leader and best player.
If the Pioneers are going to win that championship that has eluded them the last three years, they’ll have to do it without the guy that has always brought them to the party.