By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
After a bench-clearing brawl that led to three players being ejected from the Shikellamy-Selinsgrove football game, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association sent a message this week — to Shikellamy.
The PIAA suspended four players, all from the Shikellamy High School squad, who will miss the Friday night homecoming game against Warrior Run.
While the PIAA did not suspend any Selinsgrove players, the Selinsgrove school district had earlier suspended two players for one game for being ejected from the Sept. 17 contest.
The PIAA decision bewildered and angered a Shikellamy school board member who saw the fight.
“As an eyewitness to the event, it is disappointing to learn of this one-sided ruling,” director Wendy Wiest said. “It’s OK though because Shikellamy is better than that, and we will succeed under head coach Todd Tilford’s leadership.”
Wiest said she has no plans to discuss any further punishments.
“I stand behind our staff and our student athletes,” she said. “I stand behind Shikellamy.”
Shikellamy Superintendent Pat Kelley said Tuesday that the four Shikellamy football players were suspended by a PIAA District 4 committee, which reviewed the actions of players during the brawl near the end of the game.
Kelley said that the Shikellamy player who was originally ejected from the game is no longer believed to have been among those most responsible for the fight.
“Three players will have to sit out Friday night’s homecoming game and one player is no longer with the team,” Kelley said. “But he will have to sit out two events during the next sport he participates in.”
Although the school district may not agree with the penalty, it will not appeal the ruling because an appeal would require the introduction of new evidence, Kelley said.
“The committee had the perception that Shikellamy had a larger part and that Shikellamy had to suffer more consequences,” Kelley said. “Therefore, the school will be complying with the committee’s decision.”
Tilford said once he learned of the decision, he planned accordingly.
“We will continue on,” he said. “We will get ready for football on Friday.”
Selinsgrove head coach Dave Hess refused to comment on the PIAA ruling.
Calls to the PIAA were not returned and James Zack, the Shamokin Area School District superintendent who chairs the PIAA District 4 committee, refused to comment, saying he had not had an opportunity to formally notify Shikellamy of the committee’s decision.
The game took a turn for the worse when the two teams got into the melee after a 67-yard touchdown run by a Selinsgrove player was called back because of a holding penalty. Selinsgrove won the game 37-0.
The game was being played on a Monday after being postponed because of a Sept. 14 automobile accident that injured three Shikellamy students and claimed the life of a fourth student in the vehicle.
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