The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 1, 2012

Warriors alive, for now

Judges’ decisions take Edgewood out of, back in playoffs

By VINCE PELUSO — vpeluso@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— A day of uncertainty at Edgewood high school ended how it began — with the Edgewood Warriors heading to Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium to square off with the Brookfield Warriors in a Division IV, Region 13 playoff game tonight at 7:30 (WFUN).

Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court Judge Alfred W. Mackey issued a preliminary injunction forbidding the OHSAA from recomputing the computer standings after Judge Richard McMonagle issued a temporary restraining order in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court earlier in the day that had knocked Edgewood out of the playoffs and put Beachwood in.

The case centers around a Cleveland John F. Kennedy win against John Adams on Oct. 17. JFK forfeited the game after it discovered a player participated who did not meet the Cleveland Metropolitan School District academic eligibility standards, which are more strict than the OHSAA standards.

Cleveland Heights filed a complaint in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court because the forfeit would’ve given John Adams an additional win, which in turn, would give Cleveland Heights the second-level points necessary to get to the eighth spot in Division I, Region 1.

The reason Edgewood was effected by the case is the second-level points the Warriors of coach Dom Iarocci received from beating JFK 39-0 in Week 10 were enough to propel it past Beachwood for the eighth and final spot in the Division IV, Region 13 standings. Without those points, Edgewood falls short.

Attorney Dave Pontius represented Buckeye Local Schools in the case heard by Mackey and said Brookfield was also represented, while the OHSAA was on the phone.

“Evidence was taken by Judge Mackey and he entered a preliminary injunction forbidding the OHSAA from recomputing the standings which then means, in our opinion, that Edgewood will be playing Brookfield (today) at 7:30 p.m.” he said. “As far as the understanding of the Buckeye Local Schools and Brookfield Local Schools, there will be a game played (today).”

Pontius said that Brookfield was in agreement with Buckeye Local that any changes made to the game just 24 hours before kickoff would be detrimental to both districts.

“It’s important to note that Brookfield Local Schools District appeared with counsel and was in agreement that to do otherwise would be extremely detrimental to both teams,” Pontius said. “Coaching staffs have been studying film that was exchanged between the schools and have been planning strategy. Staff has been pre-selling tickets, Edgewood has sold upwards of 120 tickets.

“There has been advertising and publicity between the schools and any other decision would do irreparable harm to both school districts.”

Buckeye Local Schools Superintendent Joe Spiccia said he was pleased with Mackey’s ruling.

“Right now, we’re pleased with the judge’s ruling and feel it’s even-handed and fair,” he said. “Obviously, at this point, we’re in a wait-and-see position to see how the OHSAA responds as far as if they file an appeal and take it to the Ohio Supreme Court. What they have now is two conflicting rulings.”

Pontius pointed out that at the hearing in which McMonagle ruled in favor of Cleveland Heights, there was no evidence heard and Buckeye Local was not a party to it.

“There was a hearing before Judge McMonagle in which no evidence was heard and a temporary restraining order was issued, requiring the forfeit, and thereby requiring the recomputing of eligible teams,” he said. “Parties to the lawsuit were Cleveland Heights (and) the OHSAA. Buckeye Local was not a party to the case.”

At this point, Pontius said there was no further action planned, but said he and his partner, Mark Andrews, will be ready for anything that comes.

“I don’t know what will occur but we will be ready for whatever does,” he said.

Spiccia’s plan going forward is to speak with the players today and hope for the best.

“Our position is we’re going to talk to our players (today), I’m sure they’re aware of the situation now, and tell them to prepare to play, but also to be prepared that they may not be playing,” he said. “What concerns me is we’re playing with the emotions of 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids. We want to provide for them the final decision as quickly as we received and don’t get too excited.

“Our goal is meet the best interests of our players and wait and see how this ends up.”

Whatever does end up happening, Spiccia said he trusts that the Edgewood athletic staff and football coaching staff have things well in hand.

“We’re in a position where I believe our coaches prepared our players well and I believe our athletic director (Steve Kray) and principal (Karl Williamson) organized things well,” he said.