Westlake to play in playoff opener
Defending champion Westlake is under investigation for allegedly using an ineligible player and could be forced to forfeit its place in the Maryland 3A football playoffs.
The No. 19 Wolverines are still expected to play their scheduled first-round playoff game Friday night against visiting Potomac (Md.). Should they win, however, their next game — and the results of Friday night’s contest — could be in doubt. The Charles County School Board has a hearing scheduled for Monday on the eligibility issue.
Charles County spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson said Prince George’s County officials filed a complaint Tuesday with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association regarding the eligibility of the Westlake player, whose name could not be confirmed by The Post.
State guidelines stipulate that Charles County has five school days to convene a hearing and investigate the matter. Facts discovered within the hearing are then reviewed by the MPSSAA to determine if penalties will be assessed.
“You can’t rush to judgment. They have an opportunity, obviously, for their due process,” said Ned Sparks, executive director of the MPSSAA. “We’re following what the due process is. There also is an appeals process. If it comes down to that, we’ll put that in place too. It would be premature to take them out [of the playoffs] before they had due process.”
MPSSAA policy states if a player is deemed ineligible a team must forfeit all games in which the player participated. If a player is found ineligible during a tournament, the last played game will be forfeited and the team that was defeated will take the violating school’s place.
Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said earlier this season he and reporters at a local paper received an anonymous letter alleging the ineligibility of the same student now in question. Zaccarelli said he turned the documents over to the Charles County Board of Education.
“I know what we do here and how I check up on kids,” Zaccarelli said. “I turned everything over to the Board of Education then, and, as far as I know, they did what they deemed appropriate. We are going to move forward and prepare for Potomac.”
O’Malley-Simpson said the details of any previous investigation would come to light in the hearing. Other Charles County officials could not be reached for comment on earlier proceedings.
Said Sparks: “I’m not sure what they did [with a previous investigation]. Quite honestly, we heard some rumors and innuendo and all that stuff, but we never took any action because there was never any formal complaint. What did and what they didn’t do, I’m not really sure.”
The No. 2 seed in the Maryland 3A South region, Westlake (8-2) is slated to host Potomac (6-4) Friday at 7 p.m. in Waldorf.
November 10, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
Categories: Football , Playoffs , Westlake
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