Finally a just decision on the West Virginia High School Football situation. Was justice served? You decide…


1 Response to “Finally a just decision on the West Virginia High School Football situation. Was justice served? You decide…”

  1. December 11, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    The South Charleston High School football team will not get an opportunity to win a third consecutive state championship.

    For the players, news from the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission was “devastating.”

    The state Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the SSAC’s suspension of South Charleston players Tyler Harris, Trevond Reese, Pierria Henry and Emerson Gagnon.

    In turn, the SSAC ruled that South Charleston must forfeit its 29-28 state semifinal victory over Brooke High School since the four suspended players participated.

    At 7 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium, Brooke (11-2) and Martinsburg High School (13-0) will play for the Class AAA state title.

    “I wouldn’t say I’m happy,” said Gary Ray, the SSAC executive director. “I’m pleased that there’s finally a resolution and that we can move forward.”

    Brooke Coach Tom Bruney, whose team lost 28-7 to South Charleston in the 2009 Super Six, is pleased with the decision.

    “We expected right to prevail, and it did,” Bruney told the Wheeling Intelligencer. “It’s a darn shame it had to come to this.”

    South Charleston fifth-year Coach John Messinger said his players, and especially the seniors, were devastated by the news.

    “There were a lot of tears and a lot of broken hearts in there,” Messinger said.

    “Not just among the kids, but among the principal and the staff and our coaches. It’s not something that’s going to go away in one night. It’s not something that’s going to go away in months.”

    The Supreme Court wrote that it would be “unwise to proceed down the path suggested by the trial court” by “inviting courts to review an official’s judgment.”

    Following the players’ suspensions, Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster issued an injunction against the suspensions, and that permitted the players to participate in the semifinal game. After that game, she issued a second injunction and a written order that again sided with the South Charleston players.

    The same day, the Brooke County Board of Education, represented by Wellsburg attorney David Cross, sought an injunction to postpone the Class AAA championship game. On Nov. 30, Ohio County Circuit Court Judge Arthur Recht granted the injunction.

    The SSAC then appealed Webster’s ruling to the Supreme Court, leading to Tuesday’s decision.

    “I just sat through one of the most miserable meetings I ever had to sit through in my life,” Messinger said moments after telling his team the news. “To have to tell 42 of the finest young men you’ll ever come across they won’t get the opportunity, to prove on the field, just how good they were.

    “We may be the best unofficial state champions to ever play the game here in the state of West Virginia. That’s going to be our take on it. We’ll continue to take the high road.”

    The players admitted to being disappointed, but Reese, a sophomore running back and defensive back, said he wasn’t playing for himself.

    “The SSAC did what they had to do,” Reese said.

    “Our attorney told us it would either be a good thing or a bad thing and I guess it was a bad thing.

    “The reason I wanted this so bad was all of the seniors, Tyler, Perry, Moe (Makhene), Emerson, everybody, wanted me to work hard to play on the team and be a good player. Next year, it’ll basically be my team, and I just want to work hard and win another championship.”

    Reese also plays basketball but said his heart is in football.

    Henry, who was an All-State second team selection in football last year and All-State first team pick in basketball, doesn’t mind the moniker his coaches gave the team: Unofficial State Champions.

    “I like that,” said Henry, a wide receiver and defensive back who had five receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions against Brooke.

    “There is no reason to keep our heads down. We won all of the games we were supposed to. They said we forfeited, but that’s somebody’s opinion. We actually played and won. The final score said it all.”

    Bruney said a Brooke championship would not be diminished by the semifinal loss to South Charleston.

    “We can’t control what other people think,” Bruney said. “So, we’re not even going to try and worry about that, because it’s out of our control.”

    Harris, the South Charleston quarterback and 2009 winner of the Kennedy Award as the state’s top player, still will be interested in the result of this week’s championship.

    “I’m actually very interested,” Harris said. “It’s not us, but I’m a big fan of football, no matter who is playing.”

    Who will Harris root for?

    “No comment.”

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