The No. 11-ranked Oakland Mills football team, the defending Class 1A state champion, must forfeit all five of its victories for using a player who lived outside of Howard County.
The infraction was reported by Oakland Mills principal Marshall Peterson and athletic director Ken Klock yesterday to Don Disney, Howard County coordinator of athletics, following an investigation into an anonymous tip, said a news release from Disney.
The Scorpions were 5-2 and ranked fifth in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 1A regional standings, and with three games left to play were almost certain to make the playoffs.
Disney's release, which did not name the player, also said: "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the parent of the child falsified documents that indicated residence in the Oakland Mills High School attendance district. The student athlete did not live at the address indicated on registration forms and resides outside of Howard County."
; "I'd like to have the person who is making us forfeit come out and tell our seniors what we did wrong and why we have to forfeit. What lesson am I supposed to tell the kids this teaches? How does this help anyone?" Coach Ken Hovet
MPSSAA regulations require forfeiture of all games in which the student participated, and suspension of the student from athletic competition at any member school for 60 days.
Oakland Mills received no other sanctions.
"This is unfortunate for everyone involved," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said. "I feel defenseless. I don't think there's any way the school could have protected itself from this situation.
"I personally checked the eligibility of five or six kids about whom questions of eligibility were raised and had the administration get written confirmation so that I had hard copy that I kept in folders. This was one kid I would never have even thought about checking out, and was the one we got burned on.
"I'd like to have the person who is making us forfeit come out and tell our seniors what we did wrong and why we have to forfeit. What lesson am I supposed to tell the kids this teaches? How does this help anyone?"
The forfeitures will boost significantly the playoff fortunes of two county teams that previously had only borderline playoff hopes, Class 1A Glenelg and Class 3A River Hill, each of which had lost to Oakland Mills.
They'll each pick up five points for defeating a Class 1A school, plus a bonus point for each Oakland Mills win in the final three games.
The additional victory now gives River Hill a shot at its first county championship if it wins its final three games.
River Hill coach Don Van Deusen said: "I feel really bad for Oakland Mills. They had a great chance at another state title. That's a shame."
Class 3A Wilde Lake will lose three points and Class 2A Howard will lose four points. Since both teams have defeated Oakland Mills, they'll gain bonus points if the Scorpions win any of their last three games.
"It's very upsetting," said Oakland Mills running back and linebacker Thaddeus Dymczenski.
"I had counted on the playoffs and being state champ again. It's a bad feeling, but we'll continue to play. I'm not mad at anyone, really. Maybe the school system."
Senior captain and running back Robert Roche said the team members did not hold any animosity toward the player who caused the forfeits. "We're all friends with him," he said.