By Sal Interdonato, Times Herald Record, originally posted Oct 21, 2019
Middletown High School has forfeited four Section 9 football games, three in division, for the use of an ineligible player.
The Section 9 Athletic Council confirmed the penalty Monday after Middletown self-reported the violation last week.
The player, who transferred to Middletown, was 19 years old and a fifth-year senior. The reserve player was over the age limit to participate (under 19 by July 1) and had exhausted his four years of eligibility, starting his freshman year at Liberty.
Middletown was enjoying one of its finest seasons, winning its first seven games ahead of a showdown with five-time defending sectional champion Newburgh Free Academy Friday night.
“It fell through several layers of eligibility review in the district,” Middletown athletic director David Coates said.
Middletown started looking into the player’s eligibility during the week of the Port Jervis game. The player, who was used sparingly, did not play against Washingtonville (Oct. 4) or Port Jervis (Oct. 11). He took two snaps against Minisink Valley at wide receiver, played special teams and cornerback late in a blowout win over Kingston and participated in six plays against Monroe-Woodbury and Pine Bush, Coates said.
“It’s not a contributing member of the team significantly but we understand the ruling by Section 9 and we abide by the ruling from Section 9,” Coates said. “Once he steps on the field, that’s an ineligible player.”
The forfeits drop Middletown (3-4, 2-3 Class AA) into a fight for the final two spots of the playoffs with Monroe-Woodbury and Washingtonville. Newburgh (5-0) is the top seed and Pine Bush (4-1) is the second. Middletown can still qualify for the postseason under various scenarios including a win over Newburgh, ranked eighth in the state, and a Monroe-Woodbury victory over Washingtonville Saturday or a Monroe-Woodbury win and a loss to Newburgh. The Middies would miss the playoffs with a loss to Newburgh and a Washingtonville victory.
“Hopefully, we are going to persevere and a good team is going to be in the playoffs,” Coates said.