Youth football players seeking injunction on their suspension but is it just a ploy to stall until after the big game?


1 Response to “Youth football players seeking injunction on their suspension but is it just a ploy to stall until after the big game?”

  1. November 24, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    Four South Charleston High School students, suspended following a melee that erupted during Friday’s Class AAA quarterfinals, plan to file legal action this week in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

    Charleston attorney Ben Salango said he will file an injunction request on behalf of South Charleston offensive players Tyler Harris, Pierria Henry, Emerson Gagnon and Trevond Reese to delay their one-game suspension.

    The Secondary School Activities Commission is punishing the players for their alleged role in Friday’s brawl with Hurricane players.

    South Charleston won the game and is set to play in the semifinals on Saturday at Laidley Field.

    “What we’re doing now is looking at our options,” Salango said Monday. “And given the short time frame, our only option may be to seek an [injunction].”

    Salango said if a temporary injunction is granted, it may allow the four players to play against Brooke in Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game.

    Several players from each team were given one-game suspensions. Citing confidentiality laws, no one from the SSAC or South Charleston High School, including principal Mike Arbogast, would identify the athletes involved.

    Gary Eggleton, athletic director at Hurricane, did not immediately return calls seeking information.

    The game was halted with 14 seconds left after South Charleston’s Jervaughnte Allen intercepted a pass intended for Hurricane’s Ben Fletcher at the Black Eagles 23-yard line to lock up a 30-26 victory. Fights broke out among the players leaving and coming onto the field.

    Gary Ray, director of the SSAC, received the game officials’ reports Monday and informed both schools of the penalties.

    The players suspended for South Charleston must sit out the next regular contest, which is the semifinal playoff game, and the underclassmen disciplined for Hurricane will see their suspensions carry over to next season. The seniors involved for Hurricane must sit out in the next sport in which they participate, Ray said.

    Salango said his clients and their families were “understandably” upset after they found out about the penalties Monday morning.

    “My clients are all offensive players, and after South Charleston intercepted a pass, my clients had to take the field. There was one more play. The entire offense was supposed to come on field,” Salango said. “Certainly my clients didn’t come on the field to take part in a fight. They came to play.”

    During the fight, officials on the field ejected two South Charleston wide receivers – senior George Streater who wears No. 1 and sophomore Jalen Collins, No. 15 – for their alleged role in the brawl, Salango said. Harris, Henry, Gagnon and Reese were not penalized at the time.

    Officials filed an initial report against the two players with the SSAC within the 24-hour time period required by law.

    Some time after that, however, officials asked for a video of the fight, and on Sunday, filed a second report implicating Salango’s four clients. The two players from the original report were not listed in the second filing.

    “Instant replay is not available in high school sports,” he said. “No reports of any kind [can be used] to make any determination about a game.”

    In addition to violating review laws, Salango said the second report was filed well outside of the 24-hour time limit.

    At this point, he said witnesses are being interviewed and they are looking at all their options.

    “We want a meaningful review and unfortunately, the only way to do that is through the court system,” he said. “These kids don’t want to be involved in some type of lawsuit, but they think the result was unfair and that think this is perhaps their only option.”

    South Charleston coach John Messinger said, “It’s almost a tragedy in the lives of these kids and how it affects them. If they’re seniors, maybe they’ve played their last football game. That’s not a way to end a career. It’s a shame it comes to that.

    “But we’re not asking anyone to turn a blind eye. Rules are rules and are meant to be enforced. Whatever Gary Ray and the SSAC do is strictly by the book, and that’s his job. We support his staff.”

    Prior to Salango making it known that the suspended players planned to take legal action, Ray was asked if he thought the incident would reach the courts.

    “I hope not,” Ray responded. “We have to understand what we’re dealing with. We have to accept the consequences for our behavior. We hope that occurs. We have ejections throughout the year in all our sports. Those people accept those ejections and move on. No one ever hears about them.”

    Messinger said the suspensions would obviously hamstring his team as it prepares to play Brooke, which knocked off top-ranked George Washington in last weekend’s quarterfinals.

    However, Messinger pointed out that plenty of reserves got a lot of playing time toward the end of the regular season when the Black Eagles had several one-sided games in their favor.

    “That’s something we [coaches] were talking about this weekend,” he said. “In the middle of the season, we had [starters] playing only about a quarter or a quarter and a half and we were putting a lot of people on the field. Somehow, that’s come back as a blessing in disguise.

    “I will say this: Even playing short-handed, we’ll have all the confidence in the world in the people we use as backups, and we will not bellyache at the end of the game if we lose, that we were depleted. We have faith and confidence in these kids and how hard they’re going to play. We’ll win or lose with those kids. They’re good athletes and good young men.”

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