Northwest has forfeited its 42-21 victory last Friday night against Muncy in the Eastern Conference Class A?playoffs for using an ineligible player.
As a result, Schuylkill Haven has been awarded the Eastern Conference Class A championship due to Muncy's inability to compete this Friday.
Defensive lineman Taylor Kishbaugh, who was ejected at the end of Northwest's regular-season finale against Montrose, was supposed to serve a PIAA-mandated one-game suspension for the ejection when he played against Muncy. However, Kishbaugh played due to what appears to be miscommunication between the PIAA and Northwest.
Northwest head coach Carl Majer was unaware of Kishbaugh's suspension, as he hadn't received a notice from the PIAA at the time of the game.
"(Majer) said (Kishbaugh) wasn't ejected and there was only a minute left," said Muncy head coach Jay Drumheller. "They asked him to leave the game and he wasn't officially ejected."
By rule, the game between Northwest and Muncy was forfeited by the Rangers and Muncy is awarded a win. But Muncy cannot play Schuylkill Haven this week in the Eastern Conference championship game as equipment has already been shipped off for reconditioning, and a number of injuries to the team would put the players' safety in question.
"We share our area with the wrestling team and the first day of wrestling is Friday, so when the season is concluded we have a week to turn over," Drumheller said. "There was no way we could regroup, especially from the standpoint of safety. And our helmets are in Johnstown right now, so it would have been difficult getting them back."
Before Friday's game both Drumheller and game coordinator Bob Gimble confronted Majer about the ineligible player, as nothing official had reached Northwest's coaching staff. Had the Muncy coaching staff not caught the incident during film study, the Indians would have never known of the situation prior to game time, as nothing official reached the team until Monday.
"My point is why the lapse? Why if he was ejected on Nov. 2 and they don't find out until Nov. 12? I don't think that is standard procedure," Drumheller said. "My question is it seems like the system is a little faulty as no one knew until after the game next week."
Along with Northwest having to forfeit the win and Muncy now unable to compete, Schuylkill Haven will not get to compete the way it wanted to, even though it's now an Eastern Conference champion.
"I feel sorry for their program and I talked to their coach and they were excited about hosting a playoff game down there," said Drumheller. "I'm not sure, but they may have just put turf down and they were really excited about that."
And despite the ineligible player coming from a defense that totaled eight sacks against the Indians, Drumheller doesn't blame the loss on Kishbaugh.
"Can I say we would have won if he didn't play? No. But did he influence the game? Yes," Drumheller said. "We didn't play well and we were flat and I said you couldn't play football that way. It's just unfortunate that it goes down like that and it's a good lesson for our kids to play by the rules. You have to play by the rules - you have to in most of your life, so you have to in football."