Atholton football forfeits win because of practice violation

Atholton's football win over Marriotts Ridge on Sept. 6 will be forfeited because of an out-of-season practice violation, the Howard County Public School System announced on Tuesday.

"It's unfortunate that this has occurred, but I have full confidence that the Atholton High School community will respond in the right way," said John Davis, HCPSS Coordinator of Athletics, in a statement. "I know everyone is ready to move forward."

Atholton held a football team activity with coaches present before Aug. 17, the first day that teams may practice, according to the release.

School officials reported the violation to Davis at an undisclosed date, and Davis forwarded a report and recommended sanctions to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association on Sept. 12.

On Sept. 17, the MPSAA approved the penalty that Atholton would forfeit the win against Marriotts Ridge. Any further penalties against Atholton students and/or coaches are confidential.

"While it's unfortunate that our team will have to forfeit a game, we will take this setback as an opportunity to move forward in a positive way," Atholton principal Jennifer Clements said in the statement. "Atholton prides itself on our sportsmanship and integrity and thus we admit our mistake and accept our responsibility for that."

This is the second time in three years that Atholton football has had to forfeit its opening game because of an offseason practice violation.

In 2011, Atholton forfeited its first game against Glenelg, which Atholton defeated, 39-0.

At the time, third-year coach Kyle Schmitt accepted full responsibility for the mistake.

The Raiders finished that season 10-2, winning their first outright county title and advancing to the regional championship game, where they lost to eventual state champion River Hill.

Schmitt stepped down after last season to become the head coach at Archbishop Spalding, and John Swigart — a former Towson and Howard University assistant, and a coach with the Western Howard County Warhawks — took over as Atholton coach this season.

 "Integrity is an important aspect of the Atholton High School community. We have accepted the consequences of this violation and have put processes in place to ensure that this does not happen again," Atholton Athletics and Activities Manager Beth DeFrances said in the statement. "I have full confidence in the coach, who is a man of great integrity, and his actions since the violation have been exemplary."

Atholton, which is now 0-2 after a loss to Howard on Monday, will host defending state champion River Hill (2-0) Friday night at 7.

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