Locust Grove Pirates football
|12 - 1||7 - 0||5 - 1||.923||603||285|
|2013-09-05||vs||Salina||W||29 - 8|
|2013-09-12||vs||Kansas||W||54 - 20|
|2013-09-20||@||Stilwell||W||34 - 0|
|2013-09-27||@||Seq. Tahlequah||W||38 - 34|
|2013-10-04||vs||Westville||W||70 - 14|
|2013-10-11||@||Jay||W||40 - 3|
|2013-10-17||vs||Hilldale||W||42 - 41|
|2013-10-25||@||Dewey||W||58 - 41|
|2013-11-01||vs||Lincoln Christian||W||80 - 41|
|2013-11-08||@||Keys (Park Hill)||W||54 - 24|
|2013-11-15||vs||Roland||W||62 - 10|
|2013-11-23||vs||Berryhill||W||30 - 8|
|2013-11-29||@||Plainview||L||12 - 41|
|Rush Yds||Rush Yds Game||Pass Yds||Pass Yds/Game||Yards Total||Yards/Game||Pts Total||Pts/Game|
|Rush Yds Allow||Allow Rush/Game||Pass Yds Allow||Allow Pass/Game||Yds Total Allow||Yds Allow/Game||Allow Pts||Allow Pts/Game|
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Locust Grove football News
NewsOK articles about Locust Grove football, or articles mentioning current or former Locust Grove football players.
Locust Grove High School Varsity Boys Football
Dec 15, 2014
The week off that both Heritage Hall and Cushing received in the Class 3A playoffs was a little different.
High school football: Heritage Hall and Cushing meet for Class 3A state championship — finally
By Scott Wright | Dec 15, 2014Getting a week off during the playoffs used to never happen in Oklahoma. Then as part of the Class 6A split that was implemented this season, the teams playing in each championship game got a bye week over Thanksgiving. But the week off that both Heritage Hall and Cushing received in the Class 3A playoffs was a little different. For both, the reason for the week with no game was because of the Douglass-Locust Grove controversy, but the bye week presented itself very differently for the two teams. Heritage Hall had to sit idly in the first week of December, finally getting back on the field after the court case to get settled last week, and defeating Locust Grove in the semifinals on Friday. Cushing played its semifinal game Dec. 5, defeating Kingfisher, then had to sit and wait to see who its championship opponent would be. The 10th-ranked Tigers will face No. 2 Heritage Hall in the 3A championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Stillwater High School in a game Cushing has been preparing for over the last two weeks — at least a little bit. “That week was different. We were able to focus on ourselves and things we can control, but at the same time, we also worked on some of Heritage Hall’s favorite plays, and Locust Grove’s favorite plays,” Cushing coach Barrett Shupe said. “So it wasn’t like we were going through that week without preparing a little.” Now, Heritage Hall comes into the title game having played a week earlier, while Cushing will be two weeks removed from its last game. That ignites the rest vs. rust quandary. Heritage Hall players said they didn’t feel rusty in the first half against Locust Grove, yet their second-half performance was notably stronger. “We did come out in the second half and play better, so maybe that makes a little bit of sense,” Charger quarterback Connor McGinnis said. “But being in the semifinals, everybody wants it at that point. Everybody’s going to fight hard.” Likewise, maintaining focus hasn’t been a problem on the Cushing practice field over the last 10 days. “You say two words — state championship — and they’ve stayed focused just fine,” Shupe said with a laugh. “We’ve got a good mix of kids, and they’ve stayed pretty loose. Most of the time, it has just felt real normal. That’s what’s exciting about this run. It has felt real normal, and we feel like we belong.”
Dec 12, 2014
Locust Grove’s record-setting offense kept setting records, but Heritage Hall was the team still standing at the end of the night, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns for a thrilling 53-42 victory in the Class 3A semifinals. The Chargers will play Cushing for the state championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Stillwater High School.
Class 3A state semifinals: Heritage Hall beats Locust Grove in score-a-thon
By Scott Wright | Dec 12, 2014SAPULPA — After two drama-filled weeks that never saw the inside of a football stadium, Heritage Hall and Locust Grove kept all the excitement — and plenty of it — between the white lines of George Collins Stadium on Friday night. Locust Grove’s record-setting offense kept setting records, but Heritage Hall was the team still standing at the end of the night, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns for a thrilling 53-42 victory in the Class 3A semifinals. The Chargers will play Cushing for the state championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Stillwater High School. The game was delayed one week by the court case that drew national attention following Douglass’ protest of its 20-19 quarterfinal loss to Locust Grove on Nov. 28 in which a misapplied penalty inappropriately negated a go-ahead touchdown by Douglass with 1:04 left. Oklahoma County District Judge Bernard M. Jones ordered that the court should not intervene in the case on Thursday morning, and by Friday night it was all about football. Locust Grove quarterback Mason Fine, who already held the state single-season records for passing touchdowns and yardage, threw for a state playoff record 535 yards. Fine’s six touchdowns sent him past the Oklahoma career mark for TD passes with 113 — and he’s only a junior. Receiver Jason Pirtle had 21 catches for a playoff-record 371 yards. Yet the only record that mattered was the one that put another mark in the win column for No. 2 Heritage Hall (13-1). “I told our coaches, let’s just stop them once or twice. If we can do that, we’ve got a shot,” Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert said with a laugh. “This was not much of a defensive showcase, but both offenses played well. I can’t say enough about Mason Fine. He is a tremendous athlete, a tremendous quarterback. “But we’ve got a good quarterback, too.” Heritage Hall QB Connor McGinnis threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 153 yards and two scores. Top-ranked Locust Grove (13-1) took a 36-25 lead late in the third quarter, but McGinnis led the Chargers to touchdowns on four of their next five possessions, including a crucial 50-yard TD run. Heritage Hall followed that with an onside kick, and scored two plays later when Terrell Love went 38 yards for the final TD of the game. “We challenge ourselves to go out and play a perfect second half,” McGinnis said. “We played the best football we’ve played in that second half. Credit to the offensive line. They allowed us to get the run game going, and that’s what changed the game I thought.” Locust Grove, which was wrapped up in the Douglass controversy over the last two weeks, showed no signs of rust. And coach Matt Hennesy didn’t point to the delay as having an impact on his team. “All of that was more on me than anybody else,” the coach said. “Our kids did a good job of blocking it out. I told them to let me handle it and just take care of football. “No excuses. We got beat by a good football team.”
Dec 11, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The ruling on the field stands: A high school football team from a tiny Oklahoma town is moving on to the state semifinals, having topped an Oklahoma City powerhouse after an improperly enforced penalty with 64 seconds left."There is neither statute nor case law allowing this court discretion to order the replay of a high school football game," Judge Bernard Jones said...
Upon review, no replay for disputed Oklahoma game
By CLIFF BRUNT, Associated Press | Dec 11, 2014OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The ruling on the field stands: A high school football team from a tiny Oklahoma town is moving on to the state semifinals, having topped an Oklahoma City powerhouse after an improperly enforced penalty with 64 seconds left. "There is neither statute nor case law allowing this court discretion to order the replay of a high school football game," Judge Bernard Jones said Thursday in an order regarding the Nov. 28 game between Douglass and Locust Grove, which Locust Grove won 20-19. Oklahoma City Public Schools, to which Douglass referred all questions, said it would not pursue further legal action. "Unfortunately, the outcome of the hearing did not produce the results we hoped for. The judge's decision presents an opportunity for the (Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association) to review and address the processes and procedures that affect every student athlete in Oklahoma," OKCPS District Athletic Director Keith Sinor said Thursday. The association scheduled the 3A semifinal between Locust Grove and Heritage Hall for 7 p.m. Friday; the other semifinal was played Dec. 5. "Around the school right now, I think everybody is kind of excited," Locust Grove athletic director Justin Brown said. "Everybody's getting geared back up again. It's been about two weeks since we've played. ... It's a done deal. They're ready to go." OSSAA Executive Director Ed Sheakley said in a statement that he was grateful to both schools for agreeing to schedule the semifinal as soon as possible. "Throughout this controversy, we have been focused on minimizing any delay to the completion of the 3A playoffs, and avoiding interference in other activities and semester finals for member schools and their students," Sheakley said. The case began when an improperly enforced penalty erased a touchdown that would have put Douglass ahead with 64 seconds left. The penalty should have been enforced on the extra point or the kickoff instead of wiping out the long touchdown pass and marking off the penalty yardage from the previous spot. Locust Grove held on for the win. The OSSAA punished the officials involved, calling the error "inexcusable at this level." Douglass appealed the OSSAA to have either the final 64 seconds or the entire game replayed. The association's staff declined both options in the appeal, and its board rejected the replay options in a special meeting, prompting Douglass to go to court. Douglass' attorneys argued this week that Jones should rule in its favor without worrying about the possible ripple effects. The OSSAA countered by saying that thought the situation is unfortunate, the appeals process already had taken place. In the end, the judge said the OSSAA had the discretion to turn down Douglass' appeal. "While mindful of the frustrations of the young athletes who feel deprived by the inaction of (OSSAA), it borders on the unreasonable ... to think this court more equipped or better qualified than (OSSAA) to decide the outcome of any portion of a high school football game," Jones wrote. ___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP
Here’s a look at some of the important points made by Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones in his order to deny the temporary injunction requested by Douglass High School and the Oklahoma City Public Schools to have part or all of its Class 3A playoff game against Locust Grove replayed: “The evidence […]
Key points in Judge Bernard Jones' ruling to deny Douglass' injunction request
Scott Wright | Dec 11, 2014Here's a look at some of the important points made by Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones in his order to deny the temporary injunction requested by Douglass High School and the Oklahoma City Public Schools to have part or all of its Class 3A playoff game against Locust Grove replayed: "The evidence does not support (OKCPS') likelihood of success on the merits of its case. The law requires the existence of a harm that is tied to an underlying right or protected property interest. No such right or interest has been identified by (OKCPS); instead, (OKCPS) relies exclusively on policies it believes (OSSAA) has either violated or ignored. Reliance on these policies, however, is misplaced. Indeed, the evidence supports that the policies and the exercise of the same are discretionary such that (OSSAA) may elect to intervene or simply remain silent as it has elected to do in the present matter." "Further supporting the denial of injunctive relief are various public policy concerns. What transpired during and to some degree after the disputed quarterfinal could be considered by many as a tragedy. More tragic, however, would be for this Court to assert itself in this matter. While mindful of the frustrations of the young athletes who feel deprived by the inaction of (OSSAA), it borders on the unreasonable, and in some respects extends far beyond the purview of the judiciary, to think this Court is more equipped or better qualified than (OSSAA) to decide the outcome of any portion of a high school football game. Courts ought not meddle in these activities or others, especially when the parties have agreed to be bound by and have availed themselves to the governance of these activities associations. "This is not to say, however, that Courts must always defer to these associations or that the deference is without limitation. There are certainly rare and extraordinary instances where a Court must intervene to safeguard rights and to ensure a level playing field. This, however, is not one of those instances. There is neither statute nor case law allowing this Court discretion to order the replaying of a high school football game." "Though a seemingly harmless and benign request rooted in equity, it is impossible to ensure that the replaying of any portion of the quarterfinal would be fair to all involved. There is simply no way to fully and completely replicate the events and conditions of the disputed quarterfinal in such a way that would alleviate any and all anxiety or question of fairness. Unfortunately, whether in terms of weather or field conditions, player fatigue, the actions of coaches or referees, etc., on the day of the quarterfinal, there is no best way to right this wrong without creating even greater uncertainty or inviting further error." "Undoubtedly, the pursuit of further judicial action would result in the frustration of the world of athletics as we know it. This slippery slope of solving athletic contest in court instead of on campus will inevitably usher in a new era of robed referees and meritless litigation due to disagreement with or disdain for decisions of gaming officials -- and unintended consequences which hurts both the court system and the citizens it is designed to protect."
The Oklahoman’s Scott Wright predicts the score of the Class 2A and A championships and the Class 3A semifinals.
Oklahoma high school football Week 5 playoff picks
Dec 11, 2014Every week, The Oklahoman’s Scott Wright will predict the score of every game in the state. Last week’s record: 5-6 (45.5 pct.) Overall record: 1,573-350 (81.8 pct.) All games at 7 p.m. Friday Championships Class 2A at Stillwater Davis 34, Nowata 28 Class A at Enid Cashion 35, Thomas 31 Semifinals Class 3A at Sapulpa Heritage Hall 28, Locust Grove 24 *All games at neutral sites
Welcome to the NewsOK Varsity podcast with high school writers Scott Wright, Jacob Unruh and Trent Shadid. Each week, the writers will discuss the hot topics across the state in high school sports. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on iTunes by clicking here. NewsOK Varsity 12-10-14 <—CLICK THERE: Scott Wright, Trent Shadid, and […]
NewsOK Varsity Podcast: Looking at Class 2A, Class A title games
Jacob Unruh | Dec 10, 2014Welcome to the NewsOK Varsity podcast with high school writers Scott Wright, Jacob Unruh and Trent Shadid. Each week, the writers will discuss the hot topics across the state in high school sports. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on iTunes by clicking here. NewsOK Varsity 12-10-14 <—CLICK THERE: Scott Wright, Trent Shadid, and Jacob Unruh discuss last week’s playoffs, the upcoming matchups for titles in Class 2A and Class A, and the Douglass-Locust Grove case. PODCAST ARCHIVE NewsOK Varsity 12-2-14: Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh preview this week’s championship games in Class 6A, 5A and 4A, as well as discuss the controversy surrounding the Douglass-Locust Grove game. NewsOK Varsity 11-26-14: We look back at round one of high school playoffs with a few big upsets, and look ahead to round two mathcups such as Mustang-Tulsa Union, Lawton-Tulsa Washington and Kingfisher-Seminole. NewsOK Varsity 11-19-14: We look back at round one of high school playoffs with a few big upsets, and look ahead to round two mathcups such as Mustang-Tulsa Union, Lawton-Tulsa Washington and Kingfisher-Seminole. NewsOK Varsity 11-12-14: We take a look at the high school football playoffs, breaking down wide-open classes like 3A and 5A. Also, breaking down championship picks and this week’s top games. NewsOK Varsity 11-5-14: We take a look at the high school football playoffs and some interesting storylines this week, including Lawton female kicker Caitlyn Cox’s winning field goal against Midwest City. NewsOK Varsity 10-24-14: Expanding more on Hawk tackling, the innovative technique Heritage Hall has adopted from the Seattle Seahawks. The Varsity crew also looks ahead to Friday’s action, including Midwest City at Choctaw. NewsOK Varsity 10-14-14: Who is the player of the year after six weeks of the season? The Varsity crew discusses along with focusing on the week ahead and the junior running back class. NewsOK Varsity 10-8-14: A look look back at the surprising outcomes from week 5 games. NewsOK Varsity 10-2-14: Unruh and Shadid discuss Owasso’s rise this season and what it means for Class 6A Division I. Other topics include Westmoore receiver Dahu Green, Clinton’s poor start this season and Deer Creek rebounding last week against Piedmont. NewsOK Varsity 9-23-14: Westmoore is coming off a big victory over Norman North. Does that make the Jaguars a legitimate contender in Class 6A Division I? Also, Casady offensive lineman Josh Wariboko-Alali joins the show to talk his recruitment. NewsOK Varsity 9-17-14: This week’s guests include Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert and sportswriter Michael Swisher of the Kingfisher Times and Free Press to discuss Class 3A football, while the Varsity staff tries to answer the question of Class 6A’s best in the west, and breaks down the skills of new OU commit Will Sunderland of Midwest City.
Dec 10, 2014
No system will alleviate all issues with officials, but there are some things they could do to improve things.
It's time for the OSSAA to consider some changes to help officials
By Jenni Carlson, Staff Writer | Dec 10, 2014The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors will meet Wednesday amid much less fanfare than last it convened. That most recent gathering was to hear the appeal over the officiating debacle in the Douglass-Locust Grove playoff football game. Interested onlookers packed not only the meeting room but also the hallway, the lobby and the sidewalks outside the building during the proceedings last week. Expect Wednesday to be much more mundane. But if the OSSAA board and staff are smart, this week’s meeting, a regularly scheduled affair, will be seen as a great opportunity. With the Douglass-Locust Grove situation fresh in everyone’s mind — a district judge will actually hear arguments in the case at the same time the board is meeting — the men and women charged with overseeing the well-being of high school sports in our state have a chance to improve it. They can reform the selection and the oversight of officials during the playoffs. In the aftermath of Douglass-Locust Grove, I’ve talked to a good number of officials. Some, I sought out. Some sought me out. I’ve tried to ask as many as possible what they think could be done to avoid another fiasco like this. The truth is, the number of complaints about officiating in the playoffs is on the rise. Seems almost weekly during these playoffs, there are issues. One of our reporters saw a misapplication of rules in each of the first two weeks of the postseason. First, a ball was misplaced at the quarter change, being put at the 38-yard line instead of the 28-yard line as it was before the end change. Then, a false start resulted in a 4-yard mark-off instead of 5 yards. Neither play decided a game. The first mistake came in a blowout, and the second was obviously just a 1-yard mistake. Still, these were misapplications of the rules in playoff games. Where have we heard that before? So, what can be done? I’d start by revamping the selection process. By all accounts, officials for the football playoffs have always been chosen by a committee of one. That person right now is Mike Whaley, the OSSAA’s director of officials. Despite Douglass coach Willis Alexander calling Whaley out by name in a vitriol-filled rant after the loss to Locust Grove, I’ve always thought highly of Whaley. He was the longtime football coach at Westmoore, a longtime basketball referee, too, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the good guys in sports. In his five years at the OSSAA, he has made changes to improve the selection system for playoff officials. Before his arrival, officials didn’t get credited for games that they called unless the coaches submitted an evaluation. If no evaluation came, it was like the official didn’t work the game. Bogus. Whaley recognized that, and now, it’s mandatory that the officials submit a report after every game, in part to credit them for their service. The number of games that they call is part of the playoff selection process, so that was a great improvement. But here’s my question — why not make coaches’ evaluations mandatory, too? Those are also part of the selection criteria for the playoffs, and in a perfect world, every coach would submit an evaluation after every game because that’s what they’ve been asked to do. But we all know this isn’t a perfect world. In basketball, coaches have incentive to send evaluations because they want home playoff games. The OSSAA determines who plays where in the postseason, so coaches want to do everything to stay on the association’s good side. In football, sites are determined based on seeding. The incentive to send those evaluations of officials just isn’t high. The result is expected: the OSSAA receives coaches’ evaluations only about 60 percent or 65 percent of the time. If that’s going to be one of the pillars of selection, the return rate needs to be better. Michigan had a similar problem at one point, and it decided to take action. Schools who didn’t file evaluations were put on probation and given a chance to improve, then ruled ineligible for the playoffs if they didn’t. Michigan no longer has a problem with coaches not filing evaluations of officials. Additionally, the OSSAA should expand the selection process to include more people. Again, this isn’t a Mike Whaley problem — if there’s one individual who I’d trust to do this right, it’s Mike Whaley — but this is an issue of continuing to do things the same way because that’s how they’ve always been done. There are lots of folks in our state who have decades of service in high school sports. Officials. Coaches. Administrators. Some retired. Some active. Why not create a committee of those folks who aid in the selection of playoff officials? I fully understand that there are lots of different interests. For example, I had one longtime official tell me that the various associations representing officials around our state pressure the OSSAA to make sure their officials are given playoff games to work. If the Oklahoma City group thinks officials from the Tulsa area are getting too many games, it’ll raise a stink. And vice versa. Things like that make the business of selecting playoff officials extremely difficult. But instead of welcoming those folks into the discussion, the OSSAA’s process shuts them out. Would having a committee have its challenges? You bet. But it wouldn’t be a bigger challenge than the OSSAA is currently facing with this Douglass fiasco. One other idea that sprung from my conversations with officials is having a supervisor of officials at every playoff game. This would be an experienced official who isn’t part of the crew calling game. This would be an extra set of eyes making sure the on-field officials apply the rules correctly. No overturning judgment calls. No second-guessing a pass interference or a chop block. Instead, the supervisor would monitor to make sure penalties were being enforced correctly. Would there be a cost involved? Sure. But again, do you want to spend money on supervisors or on court cases? I guarantee a supervisor’s hourly rate would be less than a lawyer’s. Another alternative would be having a hotline to a rules expert. Sort of a variation on the replay hubs now used by the NFL and the NBA. Obviously, the OSSAA doesn’t have the resources to broadcast all the games into a central location, but if a crew had an issue or question, give it the option to call a centralized expert for guidance. In suggesting all of these ideas, I recognize that nothing will fix every problem. The major pro leagues in our country spend millions on instant replay every year, and they still have controversies. As long as humans are officiating games, there will be errors. There is no perfect system. But in high school sports in our state, there is a better system. Any member of the OSSAA board or staff should want to improve it. They should want that for the association, which is increasingly finding itself under fire. They should want that for their officials. They should want that for their member schools. But most of all, they should want that for the kids. The ones at Douglass and Locust Grove are going through the wringer right now. None of them did anything to deserve it. I hope the adults at the OSSAA are thinking about those kids when they meet Wednesday. If they are, there’s no way they leave that meeting the same way they came in. Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
Dec 10, 2014
If granted the opportunity to replay the controversial Class 3A quarterfinal with Locus Grove, Douglass is now eligible to continue. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Board of Directors voted to move the Douglass football program's probation to "warning" status Wednesday morning and accept penalties from Oklahoma City Public Schools regarding a fan punching official Chad...
UPDATE: Douglass football moved off probation, fan banned for life
Jacob Unruh | Dec 10, 2014At least one step is cleared for Douglass High School to return to the football field if allowed. A chaotic scene following the controversial finish of a Class 3A quarterfinal football game that resulted in an official being punched by a fan will not cost Douglass if an Oklahoma County District Court judge rules it should return to the field. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors accepted penalties regarding a fan punching official Chad Moyer and moved Douglass from probation status to warning status at Wednesday’s monthly meeting, making the Trojans eligible to play should they be reinstated by the court system. The Oklahoma City Police Department also released the police report filed by Moyer, which did not identify the suspect and was filed six days following the Nov. 28 game. Moyer, who is a Tulsa police officer, said he took a photo of the suspect and would be interested in pressing charges should the suspect be identified. Oklahoma City Public Schools officials have identified and notified the fan of a lifetime ban from all OKCPS events. They declined to release the name of the individual to The Oklahoman, but said they are looking into other fans who instigated the situation. “We want to identify the rest of them because like I said we take the matter seriously,” OKCPS athletic director Keith Sinor said. “We expect a lot of our kids, we expect a lot of our coaches and we expect that same type of behavior from our fans. “It’s always tough to be here in this situation, you don’t want it to happen and we’re going to take every step to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” The incident followed a controversial finish in which Locust Grove beat Douglass 20-19. Officials improperly enforced a penalty with 1:04 remaining that negated a go-ahead Douglass touchdown. OKCPS has asked Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones for an injunction to have all or part of the game replayed. Jones said Wednesday he will make a ruling by 10 a.m. Thursday. And if he rules in Douglass’ favor, the team will be allowed to return to the field thanks to a 7-4 vote by the OSSAA board of directors on a rule that automatically places the team on probation due to violence against an official. OKCPS met the three requirements to change the status by delivering a detailed report, identifying the suspect and implementing punishment and changes to avoid the situation in the future. “I believe they did the right thing,” Sinor said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, we take it seriously, but the football program had nothing to do with the actions of the fans (and) we can’t punish them for that.”
The hapless officiating crew that called the disputed Douglass-Locust Grove is not alone in its lack of knowledge of the rules. A similar situation occurred in a Kentucky high school game earlier this season, and that crew also didn’t know the rule that a sideline infraction involving non-players is enforced as a dead-ball foul, with […]
Court should not intercede in Douglass-Locust Grove
Berry Tramel | Dec 9, 2014The hapless officiating crew that called the disputed Douglass-Locust Grove is not alone in its lack of knowledge of the rules. A similar situation occurred in a Kentucky high school game earlier this season, and that crew also didn’t know the rule that a sideline infraction involving non-players is enforced as a dead-ball foul, with the result of the play standing. You can read about that here: usatodayhss.com/2014/khsaa-sanctions-refs-from-desalesmurray-game. But with that said, I hope the justice system rules this week that the Locust Grove-Douglass game is none of the court’s business. The officials screwed up, we’ve got to move on. It’s a bad break for Douglass. Heck, it’s a bad break for Locust Grove. The Pirates were denied the chance to win the game fairly, which is why I wrote last week that the only good finish to this situation would be for Locust Grove to demand to replay the final 65 seconds. You can read that column here. That’s not going to happen, so we have to move on. If you want good perspective, I urge you to go to the following link: file:///C:/Users/BTramel/Downloads/CourtPresence_0408%20(1).pdf. “Court Presence” is an article written by Alan Goldberger, a New Jersey-based attorney who specializes in sports-officiating matters. I chatted with Alan back in 2005, during the Tucker Brown flap, when the Shawnee quarterback was suspended for the next playoff game after an altercation at the end of a playoff victory over Tulsa Washington. Goldberger wrote me over the weekend and included the article which focuses on 11 significant court cases regarding sports officiating. Two are from Oklahoma: the Tucker Brown case, and the 1992 fiasco involving basketball referee Stan Guffy and Oklahoma City police officer Eldridge Wyatt. Our sports editor, Mike Sherman, actually covered that Douglass-Star Spencer game back in 1992. At the end of this post, I’ll copy Sherman’s story from February 1992. Goldberger consistently makes the point that sports are best served by keeping the courts out of sports decisions. And he’s right. Douglass-Locust Grove should not end up in court. If the game becomes in dispute, the governing body can intercede. If, in this case, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association rules game over, the game’s over. Anyone who doesn’t like the process should work to change the process. Is that fair to Douglass? No. Heck, like I said, it’s not fair to Locust Grove. It’s also not fair that Jenks and Tulsa Union win every Class 6A football title, and it’s not fair that some kids play in palatial coliseums and others in creaking gymnasiums. It’s not fair that some kids are coached by dedicated men and women, some kids are coached by sadists. Life’s not always fair. Douglass-Locust Grove should have been fixed on the spot. When it wasn’t, the options were limited. Some really tough decisions were going to have to be made to find the right answer. That answer is not in the courts. ——— And now, for your reading pleasure, here is Mike Sherman’s 1992 story about one of the craziest moments in Oklahoma high school basketball history: By Mike Sherman, Feb. 5, 1992 It sounded like a joke, but the punch line never came. A police officer providing security for a high school basketball game places a referee under arrest. This one has possibilities for stand-up comics. Naturally, OU coach Billy Tubbs, citing the incident as “my kind of law enforcement,” would arrange part-time work for the officer as a Lloyd Noble Center security guard. That’s one way to improve Big Eight Conference officiating, right Billy? It sounded like the kind of gag the Harlem Globetrotters might pull Sunday when they visit the Myriad. Foul on the ‘trotters? Deputy Barney Fife, arrest that man! Unfortunately, it was no joke. Veteran referee Stan Guffey wasn’t laughing when Oklahoma City Sgt. Eldridge Wyatt came onto the court Tuesday night in overtime of a boys game at Douglass High School. During an injury timeout caused by Star-Spencer guard Dominque Coursey’s face colliding with Douglass guard Bobby Law’s elbow, Wyatt expressed his concerns about what he perceived as dangerously rough play; first to Star coach Johnnie Johnson, then to Douglass coach Willie Kelley, who suggested the officer take his complaints to Guffey. Wyatt told Guffey to clamp down on the rough stuff. Guffey told Wyatt to get off the court. Wyatt told Guffey he was under arrest. I am not making this up. As one of an estimated 1,200 witnesses to this bizarre exchange and Star-Spencer’s 44-43 overtime victory, I still find it hard to believe what I saw. “I’ve been in this business for 25 years,” said Star’s Johnson, “and I’ve never seen a policeman say anything to an official about the way he was calling. They might offer assistance, but nothing like this. “I don’t know what was wrong with (Wyatt). There was nothing wrong with the crowd – no more than people hollering like they always do,” Johnson added. “I thought officials had the game under control. ” This from the coach whose star player was knocked to the floor by an elbow on a play where no foul was called. Guffey, of course, was never officially arrested. But after turning his back on Wyatt, he was grabbed by the officer and then pushed off the court. Escorted to a dressing room, Guffey met for 10 minutes with police and school officials before returning with partner Arthur Primas. Guffey, one of the city-area’s most respected officials, worked the final 51 seconds of what he swears was his last All-City Conference game. “It’s just not a good environment for a white official,” said Guffey, who is white. “That’s no reflection on the schools or their administration. They do a good job. But I’ve been calling in this league since 1973 and it gets a little worse every year, a little more (racially) out of balance. “I officiate for fun, and it’s no fun if you have to be looking over your shoulder all the time. ” Oklahoma City police spokesman Lt. Mike Roach refused to comment on Wyatt, who is black, or the episode, saying only that the department has started an internal investigation into the matter. It’s a sad commentary that tight security has become a necessary part of most athletic events in metropolitan America. A handful of gang-related disturbances, ranging from fights to horrifying shooting incidents, forced Oklahoma City Public Schools officials to take drastic measures. Spectators are inspected by metal detectors. Clothing that features sports team logos popularized by gangs is strictly prohibited. Gary Vaught, OCPS athletic director, said these measures, and the work of each schools’ dean of students, have created a safer environment. Vaught said there has not been an incident of violence at an OCPS athletic event in more than two years. If that’s so, police officers who work security certainly deserve a lion’s share of the credit. However, questions linger. Did one police officer go too far Tuesday night? Or is this what athletics in metropolitan high schools have come to, the man wearing the badge commandeering game authority from the man wearing the whistle? Upon leaving the gym, Guffey said he was stopped by another police officer who held strong convictions on this matter. “I told him it was my understanding that police were there for crowd control and to assist the officials on the court only when asked,” Guffey said. “His answer was, ‘That’s where you’re wrong.'” We’ve got authority whenever and wherever we choose to take it. If we feel it’s necessary, we can walk into a gym, turn the lights out and send the teams home. ” The police officer wasn’t joking.
Dec 9, 2014
The high school football playoffs go to court on Wednesday. Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh break down the key players in the case and take a look at what could come next.
A primer on the Douglass-Locust Grove controversy
BY SCOTT WRIGHT AND JACOB UNRUH | Dec 9, 2014Here’s a look at some of the key details in the Douglass-Locust Grove football controversy: The issue Douglass High School and Oklahoma City Public Schools have filed an injunction with Oklahoma County District Court to have all or part of a Class 3A quarterfinal football game replayed after an incorrectly applied penalty cost Douglass a go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 left in the game against Locust Grove. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which ruled against Douglass’ appeal to protest the game last week, has a policy in its rulebook that does not permit protesting a game based on a game official’s call. The attorney representing Douglass and OKCPS points to language in the rulebook of the OSSAA’s national governing organization, the National Federation of State High School Associations, which says state organizations can intervene in “unusual incidents.” The injunction hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court. The cast of characters Judge Bernard M. Jones An Oklahoma City native and McGuinness graduate, Jones was appointed to the District Court of Oklahoma’s 7th Judicial District on Sept. 14, 2012, when he became the youngest sitting district judges, and one of the youngest to ever serve in Oklahoma. Prior to becoming a judge, Jones was in private practice and served as associate dean at Oklahoma City University’s School of Law. Attorney Brandon Carey, representing Oklahoma City Public Schools Carey has held the position of general counsel for OKCPS since June 2013. Prior to that, he worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education. OSSAA legal counsel Mark Grossman An attorney at Crowe & Dunlevy, Grossman has represented the OSSAA through high-profile cases such as the Tucker Brown controversy, Wright City and more. OKCPS athletic director Keith Sinor A Capitol Hill product and former basketball coach, Sinor came to OKCPS in the summer of 2011 and has worked to rebuild the district’s athletic programs and facilities. He previously served as the principal of Deer Creek High School. OKCPS superintendent Rob Neu A Michigan native, Neu took over his position at OKCPS in July, and has a sports background. In 2000, he was named the Associated Press Michigan Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. In his short tenure, he has shown that he is not afraid to address hot-button issues. On Tuesday, he oversaw the school district’s decision to drop the usage of the nickname “Redskins.” OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley Sheakley is the longest tenured staff member for the OSSAA, having joined the organization in 1992. He was promoted to his current position in May 2009 following the firing of Danny Rennels due to misappropriation of funds. Sheakley is an Iowa native who has served as a coach or administrator at Blackwell, Clinton and Madill. During his tenure overseeing the OSSAA, he’s been involved in court cases involving Wright City and Sequoyah-Tahlequah along with legislative hearings. OSSAA assistant director Mike Whaley Whaley is a longtime football coach, basketball referee and member of the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He serves as the director of officials for the OSSAA in football, where he assigns crews for each playoff game. He assigned the crew to the Douglass-Locust Grove game. Douglass football coach Willis Alexander A Douglass graduate who played football and basketball for the Trojans in the mid-1980s, Alexander became the school’s head football coach in 2006. He brought the program back from a stretch of mediocre seasons and coached Douglass to the 2010 Class 4A title. Locust Grove coach Matt Hennesy In 2012, Hennesy took over the Locust Grove program that had won two games in the previous three seasons, but has gone through the last two regular seasons undefeated. His program has also been stuck in controversy before, following a 2012 hazing incident that the coach was found to not have been involved with. Football official Chris Cervantes The Tulsa native who threw the flag mired in controversy has been a football official since 1994. He served in the Navy before retiring. He has been an official in Oklahoma since 2004, where he has officiated multiple playoff games. Football official Major Williams Williams was the crew chief for the officials who called the Locust Grove-Douglass game. A veteran of more than 30 years of officiating, Williams’ crew has officiated at least one game the past four years in the postseason. What’s next? If Jones rules against Douglass’ injunction, the OSSAA could opt to play the Locust Grove-Heritage Hall game as early as Friday or Saturday, with the Class 3A final to be played the following week. If the court rules to allow the injunction, the particulars of the Douglass-Locust Grove replay would need to be determined. The location of the game would need to be determined, likely at a neutral site, and whether the replay would be of the final 1:04, or the entire game. The date of the replayed game would be an issue as well. Locust Grove, which has spent the last two weeks practicing for Heritage Hall, could seek extra time to prepare for a rematch with Douglass. Regardless of how the court rules on the injunction on Wednesday, parties on either side of the issue could appeal the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which could delay the process even longer — perhaps weeks. Where to find updates Electronic devices are not allowed in the courtroom, preventing live updates during the hearing. But staff members of The Oklahoman will have reports and comments from those involved on NewsOK.com as soon as possible once the hearing concludes.
Dec 9, 2014
You know you’ve made it when you make PTI. The Douglass-Locust Grove football controversy hit a new level of national notoriety on Tuesday afternoon when ESPN “Pardon the Interruption” hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon discussed the case in a short segment. The bulk of their debate focused on Oklahoma County District Court getting involved […]
Douglass-Locust Grove controversy discussed on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption
Erik Horne | Dec 9, 2014You know you’ve made it when you make PTI. The Douglass-Locust Grove football controversy hit a new level of national notoriety on Tuesday afternoon when ESPN “Pardon the Interruption” hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon discussed the case in a short segment. The bulk of their debate focused on Oklahoma County District Court getting involved in whether or not Douglass should be allowed to either replay its entire game or 64 seconds of its controversial 20-19 3A quarterfinal loss to Locust Grove on Nov. 28. The highlights: Kornheiser: “But what they said was ‘there’s nothing in our rulebook that allows us to go back and replay anything, and that’s the mistake. The mistake is with the public school system [Kornheiser actually means the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association] and their ruling, so what do you do? It’s wrong. How do you make it right? This [the courts] seems to be the only place to get injunctive relief.” Wilbon: “You need injunctive relief on a stupid high school game? And a coach getting too close to the field? And by the way, he didn’t stick his foot out there.” Kornheiser: “St. Ignatius … you’d be out there in robes trying to get the court to change it.” Wilbon: “No, you know what I’d do? I would just declare what was going to happen, OK. And somebody out to have the power to do that, and it ought not be in the courts. And I know you know that.” Locust Grove won the game 20-19, but Douglass had a touchdown negated with 1:04 remaining when officials improperly enforced a penalty. Oklahoma City Public Schools is asking for an injunction from Oklahoma County District Court at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The ruling on Wednesday many not even matter, as Douglass is currently on probation following an alleged fan attack of an official. Football official Chad Moyer alleges he was punched by a Douglass fan following the game against Locust Grove. If the probationary status is not changed at Wednesday's OSSAA Board of Directors meeting, Douglass would be ineligible for postseason competition.
Dec 9, 2014
A district judge will offer his ruling on the fate of the Douglass-Locust Grove football controversy that has brewed for nearly two weeks when the court holds an injunction hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Douglass-Locust Grove controversy: District judge to rule Wednesday afternoon in injunction hearing
BY SCOTT WRIGHT, Staff Writer | Dec 9, 2014A district judge will offer his ruling on the fate of the Douglass-Locust Grove football controversy that has brewed for nearly two weeks when the court holds an injunction hearing Wednesday afternoon. An issue that has been polarizing in the court of public opinion since the game ended on the night of Nov. 28 could finally be settled when Judge Bernard M. Jones hears the case of Oklahoma City Public Schools, which has filed the injunction, and the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court. The specific issue at hand is the argument over the phrase “unusual incidents,” as used in the rulebook of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which governs the OSSAA. The OSSAA, which ruled against Douglass’ appeal to protest the game last week, has a policy in its rulebook that does not permit protesting a game based on a game official’s call. The attorney representing Douglass and OKCPS points to the language in the NFHS rulebook that says state organizations can intervene in “unusual incidents.” Last week, Jones issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the Class 3A semifinal game between Locust Grove and Heritage Hall from being played. But he did not rule on the injunction, citing the need to further investigate all of the information the two sides had presented. The judge stressed to OKCPS legal counsel last week during the initial hearing that it would not be easy to prove the need for injunctive relief for a football game. OKCPS representatives have pointed to a recent ruling to replay a Big 12 Conference volleyball match between Iowa State and Texas Tech from the point of a misapplied rule. There have also been replays of protested games in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. However, all of the rulings were made by the governing bodies of those organizations, which allow for protests to be made under specific circumstances. Thus, the decision was not made by a judge, leaving no known court precedent for the case Douglass will present on Wednesday.
Dec 6, 2014
IT’S that time of year, so any wish list might as well as stretch from cap to stockings and way beyond. This seems to be the thinking of Oklahoma’s Long Range Capital Planning Commission. It recommends that lawmakers approve a $349 million bond issue to address just the “critical” parts of state government’s capital improvements list. The money would cover 53 projects spanning 11 state...
ScissorTales: One Oklahoma agency's Christmas wish list
The Oklahoman Editorials | Dec 6, 2014IT’S that time of year, so any wish list might as well as stretch from cap to stockings and way beyond. This seems to be the thinking of Oklahoma’s Long Range Capital Planning Commission. It recommends that lawmakers approve a $349 million bond issue to address just the “critical” parts of state government’s capital improvements list. The money would cover 53 projects spanning 11 state agencies. It would be the first wide-ranging bond issue since 1999. The $349 million is a lot of dough, but it’s only a fraction of the $6 billion in requests made to Santa by agency heads. The criticality of the recommended projects is subjective, but infrastructure needs at several correctional facilities are no doubt vital. Still, given that the Legislature took so long to find financing for state Capitol repairs, the commission’s wish list may go ignored. One item on the list that’s sure to draw fire is $40 million to finish the American Indian Culture Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. Philosophical objections to capital bond issues by Republican lawmakers have always struck us as strange, considering that most people and most lawmakers borrow money to buy homes and cars. In this season of giving, we’re optimistic that legislators will at least consider improving the prisons that their anti-reform policies keep filling with new inmates. The senator and the singer U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, went toe-to-toe via Twitter this week with one of Hollywood’s leading liberals, Barbra Streisand. The issue? Climate change. Inhofe has long been skeptical of man’s impact on the climate. Five years ago he told Mother Jones magazine that “Hollywood liberals and extreme environmentalists” were engineering the “hoax,” and cited Streisand in particular. The magazine this week published an article that included those comments. Streisand tweeted the article and said it would “be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening.” She added that making Inhofe chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the environment is “like giving a fox the keys to the chicken coop.” Inhofe responded the next day. “The media and those on the Internet should be more concerned about the cost of the massive EPA overregulation from the Obama administration instead of a conversation in 2009 provoked by a liberal publication.” Amen to that. Out of bounds Oklahoma City-area lawmakers were quick to pounce on the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association over an officiating mistake that potentially cost Douglass High School’s football team a quarterfinal playoff victory over Locust Grove. The misapplication of a rule wiped out a late, go-ahead Douglas touchdown. A handful of lawmakers demanded Tuesday that the OSSAA make things right. Remarks by state Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, were especially noteworthy. A news release said Cleveland is considering legislation to place the OSSAA under the state Department of Education. This is an awful idea. Cleveland also said he hears every year “from officials who complain that the OSSAA doesn’t select the best officials for playoff games and uses a ‘good ol’ boy” system for picking officials.” The lawmaker apparently missed Berry Tramel’s enlightening article in Tuesday’s Oklahoman, which spelled out how officials are assigned to football playoff games. In short, it’s a serious and meticulous undertaking that seeks to put impartiality and fairness first. Such remarks by Cleveland only serve to weaken his case. You say tomato … That many supposed civil rights activists are little more than opportunistic race hustlers has long been apparent. But in the past, most of them at least tried to hide that fact. That’s less true today. Consider Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The New York Daily News reports that he recently gave a “racially charged speech in Baltimore” that discussed the protests in Ferguson, Mo., after a grand jury declined to charge a white police officer with any crime for shooting an unarmed black teenager. The only problem: Farrakhan couldn’t recall the name of the town. “These young people in Jefferson, they’re not afraid of no tanks,” Farrakhan said. The audience had to point out his mistake before he corrected it. Ferguson, Jefferson — what’s the difference when you really don’t care about the community, but instead about your personal standing as a civil rights “leader”? Attention deficit Many politicians look in the mirror and see a future president staring back. The political profession draws people with healthy, if not excessive, self-confidence and ego. Even so, every few years some pols appear to take the presidential delusion to an extreme. An example is former three-term New York Gov. George Pataki. A Republican, Pataki has been out of office since 2006. His views on gun control and gay rights are outside the GOP mainstream. Yet Politico reports that Pataki “is again dipping his toe into the presidential waters …” Pataki has visited early primary states, talked to donors, and even has an ad funded by a political action committee. Notably, Pataki flirted with presidential runs in 2008 and 2012 before backing out, so he may do so again. Still, we have to ask: Isn’t there a more worthwhile way to get media attention? Good call We recently dinged the Oklahoma Democratic Party for demanding an unnecessary special election in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. So we now praise the party for dropping that effort this week. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican, easily won re-election on Nov. 4 against Democrat Earl Everett. However, Everett had died from injuries suffered in a car wreck just days before. Democrats argued that circumstance required conducting a special election under state law, although the attorney general disagreed. Democrats could have sued to force a new election, but decided against it. Even if they had succeeded, there was no doubt Mullin would easily win again. The only difference would have been the expenditure of up to $350,000 in taxpayer funds to hold another election. This is one instance where the Democratic Party’s action (or inaction) actually saved taxpayer money. For that, Oklahomans can be grateful. Whiling away the time Zacarias Moussaoui so hated the United States that he conspired with those who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now he’s giving this country’s court system a workout while serving life without parole in a Colorado prison. Late last month Moussaoui, who lived for a time in Oklahoma prior to 9/11, asked an Oklahoma City federal judge to appoint him an attorney so he could sue President Barack Obama for obstruction of justice. He claims the Obama administration is trying to keep him from testifying on behalf of 9/11 victims in a 2003 civil lawsuit brought against Saudi Arabia. Moussaoui says his testimony could result in billions of dollars in compensation for 9/11 victims. He previously sent a complaint to a federal judge here regarding the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in which among other things he asked to testify about a plan to assassinate former President Clinton and shoot down Air Force One. He mailed similar requests to federal judges in New York and Texas. All are, thankfully, likely to go nowhere.
Dec 5, 2014
YET again, a dispute involving a high school sporting event in Oklahoma is being decided in a courtroom. This is growing tiresome — and in the latest case, so is the behavior of the adults involved. Nine years ago, the Class 5A football playoffs were delayed for three weeks while Shawnee High School argued that a player who had been ejected for kicking an opponent should be allowed to play...
Young men most affected by Oklahoma high school football controversy provide the best persepctive
The Oklahoman Editorial | Dec 5, 2014YET again, a dispute involving a high school sporting event in Oklahoma is being decided in a courtroom. This is growing tiresome — and in the latest case, so is the behavior of the adults involved. Nine years ago, the Class 5A football playoffs were delayed for three weeks while Shawnee High School argued that a player who had been ejected for kicking an opponent should be allowed to play instead of being suspended, as the rules mandated. Shawnee ultimately lost its fight. In 2013, Wright City’s baseball team was made to forfeit its quarterfinal game in the state tournament after the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association said the team had exceeded the limit of games allowed during the season. The school went to court in a case that dragged out more than a month. Now we have Oklahoma City’s Douglass High School seeking legal recourse over a misapplied rule late in the Trojans’ Class 3A quarterfinal game last week against Locust Grove. On a play that gave Douglass the lead with 1:04 remaining, the Trojans were penalized. The officials then failed to enforce the penalty properly. Instead of marking it off on the point-after try or the ensuing kickoff, they disallowed the touchdown and had the Trojans replay the down. Douglas appealed to the OSSAA to replay the final 64 seconds. OSSAA’s board denied that request Wednesday. On Thursday, the Oklahoma City school district sought an injunction in Oklahoma County District Court seeking to have all or part of the game replayed. “There’s no ill will toward the OSSAA,” the district’s athletic director, Keith Sinor, said after Wednesday’s board meeting. “They have a job to do. We have a job to do, as well. Our job is to defend our kids and we feel like a wrong has been done.” His remarks were a welcome change from the previous several days. Immediately after the game, Douglass coach Willis Alexander said the OSSAA and its director of officials “can go to hell for all I care.” (Alexander apologized before the board on Wednesday.) One of the officials who worked the Douglass-Locust Grove game said he was punched by a fan. Police were needed to keep order. The next day, Locust Grove’s coach, Matt Hennessy, said his players had some bad calls go against them, too. But bad calls happen in every game. In this case Douglass, on a potential game-winning play, was a victim of officials not knowing how to enforce a rule. There’s no comparison with “ordinary” bad calls. Most disappointing, however, were those who suggested that race was a central factor in what transpired on the football field last week. At a news conference Wednesday, state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, and K. Gerone Free, pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, said “bias” had been evident through the years. “It’s more than one high school,” Pittman said. “Mainly, they were African-American high schools, predominantly black high schools that felt like they were oppressed by officiating that was implemented and misguided.” Meantime, Douglass junior Anthony Jackson had this to say early in the week about the team’s appeal: “The adults, they have expectations for us, so we should have expectations for them.” Will Bates, a sophomore on the Locust Grove team, said the dispute was “really unfortunate for everyone involved.” Amid all the noise from the grown-ups, leave it to the young men most affected to provide a little perspective. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect title for Anastasia Pittman. She is a Senator.
Dec 5, 2014
We don’t attack many root problems in America. We treat the symptoms, not the disease. So let’s discuss the core problem in the now-infamous Douglass-Locust Grove game. It’s not the OSSAA. It’s not Douglass’ behavior. It’s not Locust Grove’s lack of honor. It’s the shortage of quality officiating across America on the high school and […]
Douglass-Locust Grove: Will officiating shortage get even worse?
Berry Tramel | Dec 5, 2014[img url=http://blog.newsok.com/dittocontent/uploads/sites/3/2014/12/patrick-mckaufman.jpg]3507598[/img] We don't attack many root problems in America. We treat the symptoms, not the disease. So let's discuss the core problem in the now-infamous Douglass-Locust Grove game. It's not the OSSAA. It's not Douglass' behavior. It's not Locust Grove's lack of honor. It's the shortage of quality officiating across America on the high school and youth levels. And it's easy to understand why it exists. Time demands. Parental abuse. Limited financial gain. If every day was like Black Friday, you wouldn't find too many interested in being a store clerk. But every day can be like Black Friday for referees, umpires and game officials. Fewer young people are venturing into officiating. During this Douglass-Locust Grove week, I've heard from two officials concerned about the ramifications of the controversy, fearing that such a spotlight on officiating could keep officiating prospects from deciding to enter the vocation. "There is significant net loss of officials every year because very little new blood enters the system and old guys are retiring," wrote Beau Deen, a Norman engineer and long-time high school football official. "Why? There is no recruiting, and Baby Boomers make up the lion’s share of officials." Jerod Phillips also reached out to me. Phillips is a Big 12 official from Grove. Young guy who just was hired by the conference this season. I wrote about him in the summer, after meeting him at the Big 12 officiating clinic in Irving, Texas. You can read that column here. "Regardless of the outcome on the (Douglass-Locust Grove) issue, my biggest fear is we're trying to recruit young and up-and-coming officials at all levels, and I don't want this to leave a bad taste in people's mouths," Phillips said. "We're really top heavy. Lot of older officials. We're going to have to replace those guys. "If we're getting this bad publicity, we're going to lose some prospects. That kind of bothered me." Earlier this week, I wrote about Mike Whaley, who oversees officiating for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. You can read that post here. Whaley alluded to the shortage, too. Think about the shortage this way. On a typical Friday night, there are 150-170 high school games played. Last Friday night, there were 20 played. And still, one of the crews Whaley appointed to play didn't know the rules. Good officials know the rules. Period. So there's an acute shortage, and every time an official gets attacked by a fan, or an official screws up a game so bad it ends up in district court, it's less likely that a young guy will say, hey, I ought to try that. There are other issues, too. "It's really difficult," Phillips said. "I don't know what that falls back on or why or what we can put our finger on, other than I think life is so much faster. People just don't have time the way we did 10-15 years ago, to starting a new adventure. It's really hard to reach out and get in contact with people willing to do this." So, I asked Phillips, why should a young guy do it? He's not going to get rich. He can make some extra money. Make some extra money and catch a lot of grief. If those are the talking points of officiating, the shortage is not going away. "The positives? The majority of us have been associated with the games," said Phillips, who grew up in Jay, in eastern Oklahoma, south of Grove. "For lack of a better term, I wasn't good enough to play college football, but I still wanted to be in contact with the game. This was an avenue to stay in contact with the game. That's the main driving force behind my story. Being in contact with the kids, the brotherhood, the fellowship with the other guys you're traveling with." Phillips said he's made "lifelong bonds" with fellow officials. "Most of the really, really good guys that I know, have been football or basketball officials. It's a lifelong bond you develop." Deen concurs that pace of life makes it difficult to get certain people involved in officiating. That's why he says we need to market to the younger crowd. "What little unofficial recruiting there is aims at the wrong guys," Deen wrote. "Take me for instance. I’m 35 and just like most guys around my age, I’m married, have a high-pressure job, and have at least one child. There is almost no chance a guy starts officiating in this season of life. I know because I’ve tried to get friends to join. Trying to get new blood from my peer group is almost entirely futile." Deen asked me to use my "bully pulpit" to "stir the interest of the unmarried, unburdened-by-life college kids to put on the stripes and work games." I think it's a solid strategy and needs coordination, through the OSSAA. In the past, universities have had one-hour officiating classes through their health and physical education departments. If those no longer exist, work to reinstate them. Get to not just OU and OSU, but the regional universities and junior colleges. Set up clinics for beginners. Heck, offer free pizza and Dr. Pepper. You'll get a dozen people walk through the door just for that reason. Deen is right. The recruiting has to start with young people. "Whether it's basketball or football or whatever sport, I just really encourage people, for the young guy going to college, or the young guy trying to get into this, just the chance to be a positive influence," Phillips said. "It's the camaraderie and the atmosphere you get to be a part of. Not everybody gets to do that." Phillips acknowledges the problems. The abuse from fans. The pressure-cooker officials are in, no matter the level. "You're making decisions based upon people's young men and young ladies," Phillips said. "Emotions run thin. That's the biggest thing I hear. 'I don't want to put myself in situations where I have to deal with that.'" But, Phillips said, "I don't want that to overall affect what we're doing trying to recruit young officials." And Phillips, who at age 39 is a success story by any measure, said, "I would just say stay the course. The human element is always going to be there. We're human. We're going to make mistakes. Take into consideration the responsibility we have by choosing to do this. The responsibility to the players, the coaches, the fans, we have to do our best, whether it's a Little League game or an NFL game. I look at it as a huge responsibility. We need to be prepared for whatever can come that way. "The human element's always going to be there. At all levels, it's not our intent to go out and make mistakes. The more you prepare yourself, the more you study, the fewer mistakes you're going to make. You can't ever get away from that human element. That's always going to be there." Phillips is worried. He's not distraught. He says in northeastern Oklahoma, he's actually seen an uptick in the last year of young officials. He hadn't seen that in awhile, so he's encouraged. Phillips just didn't want Douglass-Locust Grove to scare off prospects. "I hope we continue to get those young guys," Phillips said. "Always going to be those bumps in the road. Hope we can shed a little light on the situation." Meanwhile, Deen is even more concerned. "I just completed my 18th season officiating," Deen wrote. "I started during my first fall as a freshman at OU. My dad, who retired from officiating after 41 years, got me started along with many others over the years. For a college kid it was great extra money and kept me involved in my favorite sport. "From all the articles I’ve read of yours regarding the DHS/LGHS game, it does appear that you give a rip about having high school officials that know the rules. The way that happens is to get young college guys (and gals if they want to, of course) calling little league and junior high long enough to know the rules so there is a pool of talent to replace the Baby Boomers dropping out in droves each year."
Douglass-Locust Grove: Judge grants restraining order to postpone Locust Grove-Heritage Hall 3A semifinalDec 4, 2014
An Oklahoma County District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Thursday that will prevent the Locust Grove-Heritage Hall Class 3A semifinal game from being played Friday night.
Douglass-Locust Grove: Judge grants restraining order to postpone Locust Grove-Heritage Hall 3A semifinal
BY SCOTT WRIGHT | Dec 4, 2014The fans hoping for a final word on the week-long Douglass-Locust Grove football drama instead got three words: To be continued. Judge Bernard M. Jones of Oklahoma County District Court did not rule on the injunction filed by Oklahoma City Public Schools on Thursday asking for all or part of the controversial Class 3A playoff game to be replayed, but he did grant the restraining order requested by OKCPS legal counsel. The same judge will oversee the hearing on the injunction at 1:30 p.m. next Thursday. The restraining order will postpone the Locust Grove-Heritage Hall semifinal that had been scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night in Sapulpa. The other 3A semifinal between Kingfisher and Cushing will go on as planned at 7 p.m. at Stillwater High School. The judge said the OKCPS attorneys had provided sufficient reason for him to grant the temporary restraining order, but stressed to them that meeting the burden of proof to necessitate an injunction would be “quite heavy.” He added that he’s well aware that a court ruling to allow a game to be replayed could set a dangerous precedent and create a “slippery slope” for the future. So the OKCPS lawyers know they have a lot of work ahead of them to be granted an injunction next week. “We’ve gotten over one hurdle. We still have a long way to go,” OKCPS general counsel Brandon Carey said. “We believe that our argument about it harming Douglass in a way that cannot be remedied was strong, and the judge agreed with it. We hope to get it resolved as quickly as possible and come out with a strong argument next Thursday.” The OKCPS attorneys filed their injunction late Thursday morning, and OSSAA attorney Mark Grossman filed a response early in the afternoon. Because of the small window for making a ruling, the judge felt the restraining order was proper to give the court more time to gather all the pertinent information for ruling on the injunction. “We understand this is a situation where the circumstances are being presented to the court for the first time,” Grossman said. “The court doesn’t necessarily have any familiarity with the situation. The papers just got to the court today. So we respect the court’s desire to take some time to consider the situation carefully. “Obviously, we’re happy that the court has indicated that it is somewhat skeptical about the chances of granting a preliminary injunction in this situation, but disappointed that the playoffs will be further delayed.” This is not the first time the state playoffs have been postponed by court action. Most recently the Wright City baseball team’s fight to keep itself in the 2013 spring state tournament delayed the event more than a month. In 2005, the Shawnee football incident involving quarterback Tucker Brown’s suspension from a playoff game pushed the Class 5A championship game back three weeks. The impact on athletes at the schools involved, as well as other schools impacted by a delay in the 3A playoffs, was heavily discussed in the courtroom Thursday. At the 3A level, the many — if not a majority of — football players also wrestle or play basketball, so those winter sports could be facing postponements to contests later this month if their players are not all available. That would also impact girls basketball teams in most cases, because schools prefer to play both boys and girls games on the same night. Coaches at all schools involved were consulted regarding the decision to allow Kingfisher and Cushing to move forward with their game Friday night. Still, Heritage Hall and Locust Grove hang in limbo waiting to see who their next opponent will be. “We’re disappointed that the boys will not be allowed to play tomorrow evening,” Locust Grove legal counsel Cheryl Dixon said. “But the judge is fair. He’s being very thoughtful, and we’ll see how he rules next Thursday.”
Dec 4, 2014
Oklahoma County District Court has scheduled a hearing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on the injunction filed on behalf of the Douglass football team seeking the opportunity to replay its Class 3A playoff game against Locust Grove. By a vote of 8-3, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association denied Douglass’ appeal to have its controversial quarterfinal game replayed at a special board meeting...
Douglass-Locust Grove: Oklahoma City Public Schools files injunction; hearing scheduled Thursday
Scott Wright | Dec 4, 2014Oklahoma County District Court has scheduled a hearing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on the injunction filed on behalf of the Douglass football team seeking the opportunity to replay its Class 3A playoff game against Locust Grove. By a vote of 8-3, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association denied Douglass’ appeal to have its controversial quarterfinal game replayed at a special board meeting on Wednesday. But Oklahoma City Public Schools’ legal counsel Brandon Carey said afterward that the organization’s next step will be to file an injunction in Oklahoma County District Court, which occurred Thursday morning. For now, the Class 3A playoffs remain on hold. Locust Grove is currently scheduled to play Heritage Hall in the Class 3A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Sapulpa. Kingfisher and Cushing are set to face off in the other semifinal at 7 Friday night at Stillwater High School, and it is possible -- though not guaranteed -- that game could be postponed if the Douglass-Locust Grove controversy is not resolved in time. The controversy has raged since last Friday night, when a misapplied rule by officials cost Douglass a go-ahead touchdown with just over one minute remaining against Locust Grove. Locust Grove won the game 20-19. Douglass was facing 4th-and-11 at its 42-yard line when quarterback Patrick McKaufman completed a pass to Quasean Sims along the Douglass sideline. Sims cut back into the middle of the field, wove through defenders and into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown that would have given Douglass a 25-20 lead with 1:04 left to play. However, the line judge working the Douglass sideline had thrown his flag at the Locust Grove 36-yard line for a sideline infraction. The Trojans had been flagged for a sideline warning early in the game, so the second such call resulted in a 5-yard penalty. According to Rule 9-8-3 of the NFHS football rulebook, the penalty should have been assessed as a dead-ball foul and the 5-yard mark-off enforced either on the point-after try or the ensuing kickoff, as chosen by Locust Grove. Instead, the touchdown was wiped out, and the penalty was marked off from the previous line of scrimmage. OKCPS administration requested that the game be resumed beginning with the extra-point attempt by Douglass, following the touchdown that would have put the Trojans ahead 25-20, or that the initial game be called a no-contest and the full game replayed. That request was denied by the OSSAA staff on Monday, leading to Wednesday’s special appeal hearing of the board of directors.
The Douglass-Locust Grove flap now moves where it never should go — the courthouse. Oklahoma City Public Schools seek an injunction requiring the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to replay the final 65 seconds of the game, which Locust Grove won 20-19 after Douglass’ touchdown with 1:05 left was wiped out by incorrect enforcement of […]
1961: We've seen the Locust Grove-Douglass flap before
Berry Tramel | Dec 4, 2014The Douglass-Locust Grove flap now moves where it never should go -- the courthouse. Oklahoma City Public Schools seek an injunction requiring the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to replay the final 65 seconds of the game, which Locust Grove won 20-19 after Douglass' touchdown with 1:05 left was wiped out by incorrect enforcement of a rule. We are a more litigious society than we were in 1961. In the 1961 Class B state quarterfinals, Lawton Douglass played top-ranked Wynnewood. In those days, there was no overtime in high school football. Playoff advancement was determined by penetrations -- trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line. If penetrations were tied, first downs was the next tiebreaker. Sure enough, Wynnewood and Lawton Douglass tied, and officials ruled they were tied in penetrations, too. Lawton Douglass then advanced with a 10-7 advantage in first downs. Trouble was, Wynnewood had four penetrations. The Savages reached the Lawton Douglass 17-yard line late in the first half, but Wynnewood fumbled back near the 20-yard line. Wynnewood recovered the fourth-down fumble, but officials ruled it was back past the 20. The next day, a Friday, Wynnewood had the game film showing the penetration in question was legit and the Savages should have had a 4-3 lead. On Monday, Wynnewood officials appealed to OSSAA commissioner Lee K. Anderson. He convened a telephone meeting of the OSSAA board, and the board voted not to reverse the outcome of the contest. "The board feels," Anderson said then, "it should support the rule which says: 'The tabulation of penetrations, first downs and yards gained will be made by party or parties agreed upon by the competing schools. It shall be the duty of the referee of the game to interpret and enforce this rule and his decision is final.'" The OSSAA awarded Wynnewood a sportsmanship trophy. Two weeks later, it awarded Lawton Douglass the Class B state championship trophy, after it beat Jenks in the title game. Reader Forrest LaRue wrote me this week. "I was a sophomore 'blocking dummy on that (Wynnewood) team," LaRue wrote. " "It was reportedly stated by Anderson after reviewing the film that in fact Wynnewood should have been awarded the game, but since it had already been awarded to Lawton Douglas they would have to give it up in order for Wynnewood to advance. Their statement reportedly was 'no sir, we gotta fight for everything we get.'" I couldn't find that latter report in The Oklahoman archives, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Coverage was not nearly as extensive as it is today. LaRue said that Locust Grove-Douglass "is not the first time a team has been shafted. Wynnewood vs. Lawton Douglass was much easier and cleaner to correct the error. We from Wynnewood still alive are still talking about it 53 years later. Douglass, you'll have something to tell your grandkids. I am sorry it happened to you, though." Another reader, Stephen Dale, also recalled the Wynnewood-Lawton Douglass fiasco. He suggested we campaign for the OSSAA to "put in place a review process to check controversial games and render the justice you guys seek within 12 hours following the game ... this is not the first time officials have made mistakes, and OSSAA never seems to fire officials. In the Wynnewood debacle, the lead official responsible for the error was never disciplined and removed from officiating. The guy and his brother continued to ‘call games’ until health issues forced their retirements. The problem lies with OSSAA, not Locust Grove. Current rules do not allow for ‘re-do’s,' and the OSSAA bylaws needed changing 52 years ago." I don't know. It sounds like the Wynnewood-Lawton Douglass mess was just an error in judgment. The official spotted the ball incorrectly after the fumble. That can happen. That wasn't an enforcement problem. If the official had ignored a Wynnewood lead in penetrations and awarded the game to Lawton Douglass, that would have been egregious. But spotting the ball wrong can happen. Not knowing the rules can't happen. But it is a good lesson that these kinds of protests and disagreements have long been with us, and that the OSSAA never has been interested in overturning verdicts. Nor should it be, really. What happened to Douglass was horrible. But delaying the playoffs, going to court, I don't think that's good. Like I wrote for the Monday Oklahoman, the only good end to this story would have been Locust Grove, not Douglass, demanding to replay the final 65 seconds. Any other conclusion was going to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of both teams, schools and communities.
Welcome to the NewsOK Varsity podcast with high school writers Scott Wright, Jacob Unruh and Trent Shadid. Each week, the writers will discuss the hot topics across the state in high school sports. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on iTunes by clicking here. NewsOK Varsity 12-2-14 <—CLICK THERE: Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh […]
NewsOK Varsity podcast: Previewing championship games
Jacob Unruh | Dec 4, 2014Welcome to the NewsOK Varsity podcast with high school writers Scott Wright, Jacob Unruh and Trent Shadid. Each week, the writers will discuss the hot topics across the state in high school sports. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on iTunes by clicking here. NewsOK Varsity 12-2-14 <—CLICK THERE: Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh preview this week’s championship games in Class 6A, 5A and 4A, as well as discuss the controversy surrounding the Douglass-Locust Grove game. PODCAST ARCHIVE NewsOK Varsity 11-26-14: We look back at round one of high school playoffs with a few big upsets, and look ahead to round two mathcups such as Mustang-Tulsa Union, Lawton-Tulsa Washington and Kingfisher-Seminole. NewsOK Varsity 11-19-14: We look back at round one of high school playoffs with a few big upsets, and look ahead to round two mathcups such as Mustang-Tulsa Union, Lawton-Tulsa Washington and Kingfisher-Seminole. NewsOK Varsity 11-12-14: We take a look at the high school football playoffs, breaking down wide-open classes like 3A and 5A. Also, breaking down championship picks and this week’s top games. NewsOK Varsity 11-5-14: We take a look at the high school football playoffs and some interesting storylines this week, including Lawton female kicker Caitlyn Cox’s winning field goal against Midwest City. NewsOK Varsity 10-24-14: Expanding more on Hawk tackling, the innovative technique Heritage Hall has adopted from the Seattle Seahawks. The Varsity crew also looks ahead to Friday’s action, including Midwest City at Choctaw. NewsOK Varsity 10-14-14: Who is the player of the year after six weeks of the season? The Varsity crew discusses along with focusing on the week ahead and the junior running back class. NewsOK Varsity 10-8-14: A look look back at the surprising outcomes from week 5 games. NewsOK Varsity 10-2-14: Unruh and Shadid discuss Owasso’s rise this season and what it means for Class 6A Division I. Other topics include Westmoore receiver Dahu Green, Clinton’s poor start this season and Deer Creek rebounding last week against Piedmont. NewsOK Varsity 9-23-14: Westmoore is coming off a big victory over Norman North. Does that make the Jaguars a legitimate contender in Class 6A Division I? Also, Casady offensive lineman Josh Wariboko-Alali joins the show to talk his recruitment. NewsOK Varsity 9-17-14: This week’s guests include Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert and sportswriter Michael Swisher of the Kingfisher Times and Free Press to discuss Class 3A football, while the Varsity staff tries to answer the question of Class 6A’s best in the west, and breaks down the skills of new OU commit Will Sunderland of Midwest City.
Dec 4, 2014
The junior has set two state single-season passing records, with the Pirates still alive in the Class 3A playoffs. He currently has 4,445 passing yards and 65 touchdowns this season, becoming the first player in state history to surpass the 4,000-yard mark or throw 60 touchdowns in a season.
High school football: Locust Grove quarterback Mason Fine is Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year
By Scott Wright | Dec 4, 2014While Locust Grove’s football team has been stuck in a raging debate that has been held in board rooms and courtrooms, one of its players was recognized on Thursday for something he accomplished on the field of play. Pirate quarterback Mason Fine was named the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year, the organization announced Thursday. The junior has set two state single-season passing records, with the Pirates still alive in the Class 3A playoffs. He currently has 4,445 passing yards and 65 touchdowns this season, becoming the first player in state history to surpass the 4,000-yard mark or throw 60 touchdowns in a season. The 6-foot, 165-pound junior is the unquestioned leader of the team and embodies the undefeated Pirates’ toughness on the field. “The heart and the effort — that’s what we’ve built the program on,” Locust Grove coach Matt Hennesy said. “We’re not the biggest, fastest or strongest, but we keep fighting ‘til the end.” Fine has completed 69 percent (292 of 424) of his passes while showing his running ability with 522 yards and 10 touchdowns. Next year, Fine will be in reach of both the state’s career yardage and passing touchdown marks. Fine, who has a 4.0 GPA, is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award, which will be announced later this month. “Mason Fine is an excellent player and competitor,” said Sequoyah-Tahlequah coach Shane Richardson. “He is probably the best quarterback I’ve coached against. He has set records in Oklahoma this year. You can tell he is the leader of his team by watching them feed off of his energy. “He is an absolute nightmare to prepare for and, at the same time, fun as heck to watch.”
Dec 3, 2014
State Senator Anastasia Pittman held a news conference Wednesday morning to address Douglass High School’s appeal of its Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Locust Grove. Douglass and Oklahoma City Public Schools has asked that the final minute and 4 seconds of the game be replayed after a sideline-infraction penalty was erroneously applied. Their case will be heard in a special meeting of the...
OKC leaders say bias played role in Douglass-Locust Grove football game
BY JENNI CARLSON, Staff Writer, email@example.com | Dec 3, 2014State Senator Anastasia Pittman held a news conference Wednesday morning to address Douglass High School’s appeal of its Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Locust Grove. Douglass and Oklahoma City Public Schools has asked that the final minute and 4 seconds of the game be replayed after a sideline-infraction penalty was erroneously applied. Their case will be heard in a special meeting of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s board of directors at 4 p.m. Wednesday. “Our communities have been informed, and they are enraged,” said Pittman, who represents the district that includes Douglass. “What we are trying to do is be proactive instead of reactive. We want to be engaged in the process, we want to learn more about the policies, and hopefully, we can be of assistance in rectifying this and preventing it from occurring again. “This is not the first incident that has occurred with Douglass High School, and we want to make sure it doesn’t become a pattern. We want you to know we’re watching, we’re waiting, and we’re ready to take action.” Pittman was asked what other incidents to which she was referring, and as she mentioned a disputed call in the playoff loss that knocked Douglass out of the playoff, Dr. K. Gerone Free, pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, stepped forward. Several local pastors as well as a representative of the Oklahoma City chapter of the NAACP were in attendance. Free: “Spencer has been cheated several times.” Pittman: “Star Spencer has been on the list. It’s more than one high school. Mainly, they were African-American high schools, predominantly black high schools that felt like they were oppressed by officiating that was implemented and misguided.” Free: “Star Spencer has been cheated out of some games that happened up near the Tulsa area as well as Northeast in basketball a couple years ago was cheated. The issue for me as a pastor is, I teach faith, and it’s hard for these young people to understand faith in a system that continues to come against them when anyone can look at a game and tell that some of the stuff that happens is not right. So, it has happened on more than several occasions since I’ve been back in Oklahoma City.” Reporter: “Are you suggesting racism on the part of officials?” Free: “I don’t want to use the word racism. I just simply want to say that there is certainly an injustice that seems to happen when it comes to schools in this city which are predominantly minority, particularly minority. When you look at our school system here in Oklahoma city, the majority of them have African-American and Hispanic kids.” Reporter: “That’s suggesting racism.” Pittman: “It’s suggesting a bias because it could be two African-American schools playing against each other. So, it depends on the circumstances. It depends on the application of when those rules were called, how they were called.”
Dec 3, 2014
Locust Grove football coach Matt Hennesy still knew they have to sit and wait to see what happens next, which includes the possibility that the top-ranked Pirates might not play No. 2 Heritage Hall in Friday’s Class 3A semifinal at Sapulpa due to OKCPS likely filing for a legal injunction that could halt the playoffs.
Locust Grove football: Locust Grove in wait-and-see mode
By Jacob Unruh | Dec 3, 2014Locust Grove coach Matt Hennesy was ready to turn his full attention back to Heritage Hall. He was back in the rural community where he conducted practice like usual Wednesday, knowing the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors had ruled not to replay the Pirates’ controversial finish against Douglass last week. But he still knew they have to sit and wait to see what happens next, which includes the possibility that the top-ranked Pirates might not play No. 2 Heritage Hall in Friday’s Class 3A semifinal at Sapulpa due to OKCPS likely filing for a legal injunction that could halt the playoffs. “It doesn’t change anything,” Hennesy said. “With the exception of me talking to the media, we haven’t talked about Douglass at all. It’s been straight practice on Heritage Hall, work on Heritage Hall, our normal routine as much as possible. “I’d like to say it’s behind us now and we can turn all of our focus to Heritage Hall, but you never know what’s going to happen.” Locust Grove beat Douglass 20-19 last week after Douglass scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 remaining, but a penalty on the sideline was incorrectly enforced on the play to negate the touchdown. The OSSAA has apologized for the error, but it is not in its policy or the National Federation of State High School Associations to allow a protest. “I think the lesson today for all of the players, is that rules matter,” Locust Grove attorney Matt Cyran said. “Rules are rules and sometimes the enforcement of rules is an unpleasant task and sometimes it makes several people unhappy. But it’s important to have some structure and the board realized that today and followed those rules. “Locust Grove is pleased with the outcome. They recognize that this has even a very difficult decision for everybody involved and it’s very understandably upsetting for the folks at Douglass. Locust Grove is very proud of their players, their student-athletes and their coaches in the way they’ve conducted themselves on and off the field in this matter.” Cyran argued in the majority of his presentation to the board that by granting a replay of the final seconds or the entire game itself would be opening Pandora’s Box to allow other controversial calls to be challenged. But the real concern was where things would end should this continue. “It’s not fair to all of these kids that are needing to start basketball, needing to start wrestling,” Hennesy said. “We’re already postponing their season for a good reason, but we don’t need to be postponing it for a negative reason.” If the injunction is upheld in court, the 3A playoffs will likely be put on hold for an unknown length of time. On the other side of the bracket, Kingfisher and Cushing are also scheduled to play at 7 p.m. Friday in Stillwater. But if the courts hold up the Douglass-Locust Grove game, Kingfisher and Cushing will likely see their game postponed as well. “We’re going to have to deal with it,” Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert said. “Obviously, we’d rather it not be delayed. If it gets into the court system, it could be January before we finish this. “I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope there’s a quick resolution on it tomorrow or if someone agrees to hear it, it's quickly.”
Dec 3, 2014
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association an appeal by Douglass to have the final 64 seconds of the controversial Class 3A quarterfinal game replayed.
Douglass High School will seek legal action after appeal is denied
BY SCOTT WRIGHT, Staff Writer | Dec 3, 2014The next stop for the Douglass-Locust Grove playoff football game is the courtroom. Six days after the final whistle blew, the controversial Class 3A quarterfinal game has yet to be fully resolved, after the appeal by Douglass to have the final 64 seconds of the game replayed was denied by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association on Wednesday night. After the vote of 8-3 to deny the appeal, Oklahoma City Public Schools’ legal counsel Brandon Carey said that the organization’s next step will be to file an injunction in Oklahoma County District Court as early as Thursday morning. “We’re assessing our options, but will most likely, probably (Thursday), try to file something in an Oklahoma County District Court — some type of petition and injunction to stop the certification of these results and the playing of the next game until we get a decision from a judge,” Carey said. “After a quick discussion afterwards, we now definitely feel like that’s the way we want to go.” A court case will extend what already has been an emotionally draining week for all involved, particularly after Wednesday’s special meeting of the OSSAA board, which seemed to be pointing in Douglass’ favor but quickly swung the other way. The debate was not over whether or not Douglass was the victim of a misapplied rule that cost them a go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 left in the game, but over whether or not the OSSAA or its governing organization, the National Federation of State High School Associations, allowed for the possibility of a protest. It particularly centered around the phrasing in an NFHS rule that gives state associations the power to “intercede in the event of unusual incidents,” which Carey argued should apply to this game. The board meeting lasted a little more than an hour, and at one point, a motion had been made by board member Mark Hudson, of Preston, to have the game replayed in its entirety at a neutral site. Board member Bill Seitter, of Watonga, seconded the motion, but after more discussion, Hudson’s initial motion was amended. The amended motion was not seconded by any board member. Like former Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins had successfully done three years ago, Douglass coach Willis Alexander made a plea to the board to let his team continue in the playoffs by offering to withdraw himself from the remaining games. “I don’t want my actions and my comments after the game to get in the way of this team moving forward. I will sit out the remainder of the playoffs to allow my team to play,” Alexander told the board, before making a reference to the 2002 movie “John Q” in which Denzel Washington plays the father of a boy who needs a heart transplant. “My team needs a heart. Take mine. Do not take theirs.” Watkins made a similar gesture when his team was facing elimination from the Class 5A playoffs in 2011 when the team had been ruled to have used an ineligible player in eight victories. The board accepted Watkins’ proposal, suspending him for eight games, including the playoffs. But his team was allowed to play, and ultimately won the state championship. Keeping ‘the faith’ Alexander’s offer brought no such response from the board. Not long after his plea and his public apology to the OSSAA, and specifically staff member Mike Whaley, for his strong comments directed at them after Friday night’s game, the board voted to deny the team’s appeal. Alexander did not speak to the media after the meeting, but he briefly addressed his players who had come to the OSSAA office in support of the effort. They huddled around him as they would on the practice field as he told them to “keep the faith,” then he raised a fist above his head. “Committed on three. One, two three,” he said, and his players responded in unison, “Committed!” But the game is out of the hands of the Douglass players, and it will be in the jurisdiction of lawyers and judges on Thursday. “I’m not certain as to why (the OSSAA board) felt like they didn’t have the power to overturn their policy, when they have clearly done that in the past,” OKCPS athletic director Keith Sinor said, referencing past board rulings on Guthrie football in 2011 and Wright City baseball in 2013. “We felt like we had an opportunity to argue our case on its merit, so we’re confused as to why they pick and choose when they’re going to approve appeals. “There’s no ill will toward the OSSAA. They have a job to do. We have a job to do, as well. Our job is to defend our kids when we feel like a wrong has been done.”
I’ve watched Oklahoma high school football for more than 30 years. To watch the unfair treatment of Douglass High School these past two years has been painful. We want these kids to respect authority, but those who are in authority don’t respect the kids. I was at the Doug-lass game last season against Poteau and the game on Friday against Locust Grove. It’s apparent the officials are at best...
OSSAA football officials are at best inept and at worst racist
Dec 3, 2014I’ve watched Oklahoma high school football for more than 30 years. To watch the unfair treatment of Douglass High School these past two years has been painful. We want these kids to respect authority, but those who are in authority don’t respect the kids. I was at the Doug-lass game last season against Poteau and the game on Friday against Locust Grove. It’s apparent the officials are at best inept and at worst racist. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association pays lip service to obvious problems and does nothing to correct them. The public will watch some of these kids get into trouble in later years and form all kinds of negative opinions and not remember how the adults put in charge of them did so much to destroy their self-esteem. Something needs to be done to hold OSSAA’s feet to the fire until it does something to correct the injustices done to the kids at Douglass. Willis Alexander Sr., Oklahoma City Alexander is the father of Douglass football coach Willis Alexander.
Dec 2, 2014
FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS — Locust Grove football player says the Pirates are trying to block out the controversy and prepare for whatever is next, including ‘if they made us come back and play the final minute’
Douglass-Locust Grove saga: Locust Grove player says 'it's unfortunate for everybody involved'
From Staff Reports | Dec 2, 2014LOCUST GROVE — Will Bates and the rest of his Locust Grove teammates are focusing on playing Heritage Hall this week and not paying attention to Douglass’ protest over the Trojans 20-19 playoff loss to the Pirates last Friday night. “We are just kind of blocking it out,” said Bates, a sophomore offensive lineman for Locust Grove. “We are just getting ready for the next round. Whatever happens, happens. We can’t do anything about it.” Douglass has asked that the game, or at least the last 64 seconds of it, be replayed after the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association admitted that game officials misapplied a sideline infraction penalty that nullified a potential game winning touchdown by the Trojans. “If they made us come back and play the final minute, we would just show up and do what we have to do.” Bates said. Bates said he does feel empathy for Douglass but that the Pirates didn’t cheat anyone. “We are not the ones to make the call,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate for everybody involved.” Bates father, Shawn, said residents in Locust Grove feel like they are being portrayed in the media as an unrepentant town that stole a playoff victory. “That couldn't be further from the truth,” said Bates, who is the Locust Grove booster club president. “We didn't miss any calls or misapply any calls.” Meanwhile, the controversy has kept Locust Grove fans from celebrating the Pirates advancing to the state semifinals for only the second time in school history, he said. “We should be riding high,” he said. Locust Grove coach Matt Hennesy said replaying any portion of the game would be unfair, and he is trying to keep his players focused on their next opponent, Heritage Hall. More legislators, NAACP to show support for Douglass Representatives of the NAACP are expected to join Oklahoma Senator Anastasia Pittman at a Wednesday morning news conference to show support for Douglass High School’s plea to replay the final minute of its controversial Class 3A playoff game. Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, whose senate district encompasses the Douglass High School community, plans to ask the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to grant the request of Douglass and Oklahoma City Public Schools to replay the final 64 seconds of the game, which Locust Grove won 20-19 last Friday night. Douglass football coach Willis Alexander, community and religious leaders, and representatives from the NAACP are expected to join Pittman at the 10 a.m. news conference on Wednesday. The OSSAA denied the initial OKCPS request to have the final 64 seconds of the game replayed, but the OSSAA board of directors will hear an appeal at 4 p.m. Wednesday. “This is an opportunity for the OSSAA to do the right thing,” Pittman said. “This is about an organization of adults that has taken something away from a group of Oklahoma children, and the ability to decide to make things right and let this playoff game be settled on the field.” Rep. Cleveland considering legislation for state government to take over OSSAA State Representative Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, has been at the forefront of the Oklahoma legislature’s investigation into OSSAA practices. Following the Douglass football controversy, he says he is considering legislation that would place the OSSAA under the Oklahoma Department of Education, according to a news release Wednesday. “Obviously, this is an organization that needs significantly more oversight and accountability,” Cleveland said. “I get calls every year from officials who complain that the OSSAA doesn't select the best officials for playoff games and uses a ‘good ol' boy’ system for picking officials. I have been told that one person appoints all the playoff officials. OSSAA needs to revise its system for selecting officials so that we have the best officials available to work these playoff games.” The release included comments from a bipartisan group of four state representatives showing support for Douglass’ opportunity to replay the final minute of its game against Locust Grove. “The young men at Douglass High were wronged, and we have an opportunity to make it right,” said state Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “Everyone agrees that the call was wrong, so now we need to discuss how to fix it in a way that is fair to both the young men from Douglass and from Locust Grove.” Ed Godfrey, Scott Wright and the Tulsa World contributed to this report.
Dec 2, 2014
FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS — Guthrie football and Wright City baseball were successful in their appeals to the OSSAA board that will rule on the Douglass-Locust Grove saga Wednesday. Here’s a look at those cases.
Douglass-Locust Grove: OSSAA board has overruled its staff in two high-profile playoff appeals
By Scott Wright | Dec 2, 2014The next move in the Douglass-Locust Grove football saga will be made by the board of directors for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. The OSSAA staff has already ruled against Douglass and the Oklahoma City Public Schools in their request to have the final 64 seconds of the controversial Class 3A playoff game replayed. It might seem like a foregone conclusion that the board of directors will simply take its lead from the OSSAA staff and deny the appeal when it hears it at a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday. However, it’s not a guarantee that the board will stick behind a staff ruling. Two high-profile cases in the last few years, both involving teams in the playoffs, have shown that the OSSAA board is not afraid to take a different path. In November 2011, the Guthrie football team was ruled to have used an ineligible player. The OSSAA staff penalized the team with nine forfeits, which would have eliminated the Bluejays from the playoffs. But Guthrie and then-coach Rafe Watkins appealed the decision to the board. After Watkins offered himself as the target of punishment, the board of directors reversed the forfeits, suspended Watkins for eight games and forced Guthrie to surrender gate profits from the playoffs. Yet the team was allowed to play, and ultimately won the Class 5A state championship. In the spring of 2013, the Wright City baseball team was ruled to have exceeded the limit of allowed games, which resulted in the OSSAA staff enforcing a forfeit of Wright City’s quarterfinal game in the state tournament. The school received an injunction in McCurtain County Court to put the state tournament on hold, forcing the OSSAA to appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The case lasted for more than a month before the court ruled that both sides had erred. The injunction was lifted and the appeal was sent back to the OSSAA board, which then determined that Wright City could play in the state tournament, but coach Kyle Butler would be suspended until the spring of 2014. Both cases have the common thread of a team trying to keep its postseason alive. But there’s one notable difference in the Douglass case. The OSSAA staff determined that Guthrie and Wright City had each broken a rule. The Douglass football team hasn’t broken an OSSAA rule. It is simply asking to be viewed as an exception to one. Douglass’ case stands on a key phrase from the rulebook of the OSSAA’s governing organization, the National Federation of State High School Associations. The phrase in Rule 1-1-8 in the NFHS rulebook reads: “State Associations may intercede in the event of unusual incidents that occur before, during or after the game officials’ jurisdiction has ended or in the event that a game is terminated prior to the conclusion of regulation play.” A touchdown scored with 1:04 remaining in last Friday’s game would have given Douglass a 25-20 lead, but the touchdown was inappropriately negated when officials misapplied a rule for a sideline infraction. Locust Grove went on to win 20-19. Douglass wants the final 1:04 replayed, from the moment the rule was inappropriately enforced, on the basis that this situation fits the definition of a “unusual incident.” “To my knowledge, this has not been done before (by the OSSAA),” OKCPS athletic director Keith Sinor said of potentially replaying a portion of a game. “But in fairness, we believe this is the correct course of action for the OSSAA.”
State legislator Bobby Cleveland has been at the forefront of the legislature’s investigation into the OSSAA, and now he has joined the group of lawmakers showing support for the Douglass football team, along with a few other state representatives. Here is the news release from a group of state legislators Tuesday afternoon: A bipartisan group of […]
More state lawmakers voice support of Douglass
Scott Wright | Dec 2, 2014State legislator Bobby Cleveland has been at the forefront of the legislature’s investigation into the OSSAA, and now he has joined the group of lawmakers showing support for the Douglass football team, along with a few other state representatives. Here is the news release from a group of state legislators Tuesday afternoon: A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) to come up with a solution that would give Douglass High School's football team an opportunity to play the last minute of a playoff football game that turned on an inappropriately enforced penalty at the end of the game. After scoring a go-ahead touchdown to take a 25-20 lead late in the Class 3A quarterfinals against Locust Grove, officials improperly enforced a penalty against Douglass that stripped the team of the touchdown. Following the penalty, Douglass lost the, 20-19, ending its season. "The young men at Douglass High were wronged, and we have an opportunity to make it right," said state Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. "Everyone agrees that the call was wrong, so now we need to discuss how to fix it in a way that is fair to both the young men from Douglass and from Locust Grove." "I am very aware how things can occur in an athletic event," said state Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City. "I played on both the high school and college level. Even with that, I am disappointed with the officiating at the end of the Douglass game. I feel very strongly that there are opportunities for rectifying this particular problem. Douglas is in my district and I feel strongly about the OSSAA making it right. I am willing to give them an opportunity to do so." State Rep. Bobby Cleveland said he is considering legislation for the upcoming session that would place the OSSAA under the Oklahoma Department of Education. "Obviously, this is an organization that needs significantly more oversight and accountability," said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. "I get calls every year from officials who complain that the OSSAA doesn't select the best officials for playoff games and uses a "good ol' boy" system for picking officials. I have been told that one person appoints all the playoff officials. OSSAA needs to revise its system for selecting officials so that we have the best officials available to work these playoff games." "This call was a terrible injustice that must not happen again," said state Rep. Paul Wesselh?ft, R-Moore.
State senator Anastasia Pittman, NAACP representatives to hold news conference Wednesday in support of Douglass football team
The following is a news release from the Oklahoma State Senate on behalf of senator Anastasia Pittman, whose senate district encompasses the Douglass High School community: State Sen. Anastasia Pittman has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, to formally ask the Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association (OSSAA) to allow for a […]
State senator Anastasia Pittman, NAACP representatives to hold news conference Wednesday in support of Douglass football team
Scott Wright | Dec 2, 2014The following is a news release from the Oklahoma State Senate on behalf of senator Anastasia Pittman, whose senate district encompasses the Douglass High School community: State Sen. Anastasia Pittman has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, to formally ask the Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association (OSSAA) to allow for a replay of all or part of the Class 3A football quarterfinal playoff game last week between Oklahoma City’s Frederick A. Douglass High School and Locust Grove High School. Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, will be joined by Douglass coach Willis Alexander at the news conference along with community and religious leaders and representatives from the NAACP. Pittman also invites elected officials and other interested parties to attend. The Douglass Trojans scored a touchdown to take a 25-20 lead with a minute to play in Friday’s playoff game, but the touchdown was disallowed because of an improperly enforced penalty. Proper procedure called for the touchdown to stand and the penalty to be enforced after the score, but the touchdown was improperly taken away. Locust Grove went on to win the game 20-19 and advance to the state semifinals. Oklahoma leaders like Sen. David Holt and former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer have called for the OSSAA to allow the final minute of the game to be replayed. Oklahoma City Public Schools officially requested a replay, but the OSSAA denied it. The OSSAA Board of Directors is set to hear an appeal of the decision Wednesday. “This is an opportunity for the OSSAA to do the right thing,” Pittman said. “This is about an organization of adults that has taken something away from a group of Oklahoma children, and the ability to decide to make things right and let this playoff game be settled on the field.”
OKCPS calls Monday afternoon news conference to discuss its next steps in Douglass-Locust Grove controversyDec 1, 2014
Administrators for the Oklahoma City Public Schools have called a 3 p.m. news conference to discuss its plans regarding the formal request it made to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to allow the Douglass and Locust Grove football teams to replay the final minute of their Class 3A quarterfinal game. OKCPS administrators have asked […]
OKCPS calls Monday afternoon news conference to discuss its next steps in Douglass-Locust Grove controversy
Scott Wright | Dec 1, 2014Administrators for the Oklahoma City Public Schools have called a 3 p.m. news conference to discuss its plans regarding the formal request it made to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to allow the Douglass and Locust Grove football teams to replay the final minute of their Class 3A quarterfinal game. OKCPS administrators have asked the OSSAA to "fairly address the incorrect enforcement of a call that cost the Douglass Trojans a touchdown" with just more than one minute remaining in the game last Friday night at Douglass. The touchdown would have put Douglass ahead 25-20, but the touchdown was inappropriately negated and Locust Grove won 20-19. Neither OSSAA policy nor the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the OSSAA is a member, allow for a game to be protested because of an official's error. However, OKCPS athletic director Keith Sinor is pointing to a rule in the NFHS handbook that gives state associations the power to intercede in unusual circumstances. Article 8 in the NFHS rulebook reads: "The game officials' authority extends through the referee's declaration of the end of the fourth period or overtime. The game officials retain clerical authority over the game through the completion of any reports, including those imposing disqualifications, that are responsive to actions occurring while the game officials had jurisdiction. State Associations may intercede in the event of unusual incidents that occur before, during or after the game officials' jurisdiction has ended or in the event that a game is terminated prior to the conclusion of regulation play." The initial request by OKCPS to have the final minute of the game replayed was denied by the OSSAA, but OKCPS officials are seeking to meet again with the OSSAA citing this rule and NCAA precedent for replaying a game in this manner. Most recently, the NCAA Rules Committee approved a protest by the Iowa State volleyball team to have a match replayed from the point in which a rule was misapplied. The Oct. 18 match against Texas Tech was completed from that point on Nov. 26.
Dec 1, 2014
I’ve been around referees and officials for 35 years. And there have been some duds. I’ve seen a few with obvious bias, but not many. Hardly any, actually. I’ve seen a few with judgment problems. Couldn’t tell safe from out or in from out. But not many. I’ve seen a few with personality problems. Sort […]
OSSAA director tells how officials are selected
Berry Tramel | Dec 1, 2014[img url=http://blog.newsok.com/dittocontent/uploads/sites/3/2014/12/terrance-bagby.jpg]3503369[/img] I've been around referees and officials for 35 years. And there have been some duds. I've seen a few with obvious bias, but not many. Hardly any, actually. I've seen a few with judgment problems. Couldn't tell safe from out or in from out. But not many. I've seen a few with personality problems. Sort of like bad cops, they can get a little power hungry. But not many. But I've seen way more of those kinds of officials than I have refs who don't know the rules. Maybe I was jaded by spending so much time with the late Bob Colon, who as sports editor of The Oklahoman hired me 23 years ago. Bob also was a high school official, a zealous defender of officiating, and here's why. He knew the rules. His crew knew the rules. Bob believed every zebra should know the rules. Which brings us to the Locust Grove-Douglass situation. Locust beat Douglass 20-19 in the Class 3A quarterfinals Friday night, after a Douglass touchdown pass with a minute left in the game was wiped out by a sideline penalty. The sideline infraction should have been assessed on the extra point or the ensuing kickoff. Instead, the know-nothing officiating crew enforced the penalty from the previous line of scrimmage. The Trojans were flagged again for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing the call, a 4th-and-31 pass fell incomplete and Locust Grove advanced. I wrote about the situation for the Monday Oklahoman, which you can read here. Mike Whaley coached 30 years of Oklahoma high school football. He never lost a game like Douglass lost, never lost a game because officials didn't know the rules. And now Whaley is mortified, since his job is director of officiating for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. And Whaley gets to answer the question. How could that officiating crew not know the rule? "That's a great question," Whaley said. "Obviously, I wouldn't have stuck them out there if I'd know they didn't know the rules." The crew messed up because they incorrectly called it a live-ball foul. The sideline infraction is a live-ball penalty only if it involved a player. If it involves a non-player, it's a dead-ball penalty and is assessed after the play. The rule is relatively new and comes from the national high school federation. Whaley said it came from a sideline incident in which an official collided with a coach, was injured and filed a lawsuit. So the new rule was implemented to try to keep non-player personnel off the field in the heat of battle. But the officials didn't make the distinction between player and non-player. "That's where they messed up," Whaley said. "I'm not happy at all about it. I'm thoroughly embarrassed that I had somebody out there that didn't know the rule, especially in a situation like that. I take responsibility. I'm the director of officials and I made the assignment. I shouldn't put people out there that don't know the rules." All across America, there is a shortage of good officials on the high school level. But there shouldn't be a shortage in late November. During the regular season, anywhere from 160-180 Oklahoma high school games are played. Shortage then? Sure. But Friday night, there were 20 playoff games staged. Let's say half of the regular-season crews can be labeled solid. That means you need less than a quarter of the solid crews. The Douglass-Locust Grove crew was in the upper 10-15 percent of Oklahoma crews? Whaley explained how officiating assignments work. The OSSAA asks crews to sign up for availability in the playoffs. Maybe someone has a wedding the third weekend in November. Maybe somebody's gone for Thanksgiving weekend. Not every crew is available every week. Whaley said over the past five or six years, an average of about 115 crews will sign up. Whaley makes assignments based loosely on geography -- no reason to ask a crew to drive 200 miles to a game, but crews won't call a game in their hometowns, either -- and ranks them with a system that's heavily subjective: * 22 percent of a crew's grade from coaches over the last year. * 22 percent of a crew's grade from coaches over the last three years. * 22 percent of a crew's grade from a group test. Officials routinely take an open-book test individually, but Whaley likes to test the crews as a group. * 22 percent of a crew's experience, including attendance at clinics, playoff experience and years of service. * 12 percent from reports, recommendations, complaints, praise. Anyone credible -- coaches, media, long-time observers, other officials -- Whaley makes note of. He takes all that information and ranks the crews, then doles out assignments based on class and geography. In other words, a crew that has called largely Class A and 2A games isn't likely to be handed the Tulsa Union-Mustang game. A crew that's called 6A games most of the season isn't likely to be given Wynnewood-Thomas. Whaley also collects information. He asks officials their alma mater and what conflicts they have in terms of friends or relatives who might be coaching or have sons playing. You don't want a guy calling a game involving his nephew or his college roommate's son. Also, coaches at the start of the playoffs get five crews they can scratch. Five crews they don't want calling their games. Whaley checks each crew's regular-season schedule. He prefers not to have a crew call a game involving a team it recently officiated over. Whaley tries to produce the best matches for officials. "But I can't know every night where the tough game is going to be," he said. "I try to put the best guys on the best games. Does the system work perfectly, no it doesn't." And it fails miserably when officials don't know the rules. Whaley doesn't pretend to know how Douglass players and coaches feel. But he coached Oklahoma high school football for 30 years. "I experienced that 30 times, when you have to quit playing," Whaley said. "Football season, you prepare, you prepare, you prepare, and you play a game, and all of a sudden it ends like a train stopping. It's very difficult. I wouldn't claim to tell you I know what it's like for those players and coaches, what they're going through. But I know what it was like for me when the train stopped." It's hard to take. And it's even worse when the train stops because officials don't know the rules.