Ringling still has a chance to win its second straight Class A football championship.
One day after the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association ruled senior Ryan Lester ineligible but kept the top-ranked Blue Devils in the title game, Ringling dropped its planned appeal Wednesday morning.
The decision keeps the top-ranked Blue Devils facing No. 2 Hollis at 7 p.m. Thursday in Cache.
But they will be without Lester, a wide receiver and defensive back who will be on the sideline but not in a jersey.
“The cloud’s lifted,” Ringling superintendent Rick Hatfield said. “We feel bad for Ryan and we hate to see that happen, but he’s going to be there to cheer us on.
“At least with the cloud lifted, we’re going to go ahead and play, and that helps.”
OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said the plan remains to revisit the issue in January, where it’s possible more sanctions could be posed to the school, but he has no plans to recommend forfeitures or financial restitution.
That alone is a change for the OSSAA, which in the past has suspended coaches, forced teams to forfeit games and even imposed financial penalties on schools for similar violations.
“It’s kind of been a shift in our philosophy a little bit,” Sheakley said. “In this situation, we’ve got a bunch of kids involved who have worked hard to get to this point and we just felt the penalty didn’t fit the situation when taking everything into account.”
Sheakley said the timeliness of the issue was a huge factor in the staff’s decision.
The OSSAA received an anonymous letter early last week alerting it of an ineligible player at Ringling. The OSSAA immediately opened an investigation, where it was discovered that Lester repeated the eighth grade after attending Zaneis Public Schools in Wilson. He did not sit out the required year in accordance with Rule 7 of the organization’s rule book.