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Published: Tuesday, 9/1/2009

OHSAA rules Libbey's game at Hilliard Darby 'no contest'

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Throughout the summer Sean Wesolowski was busy preparing for what was to be his first game as a high school head football coach.

On Friday, his Libbey Cowboys were on the field, warmed up, and ready to roll as the 7:30 p.m. kickoff approached some two hours south at Hilliard Darby, a northern Columbus suburb.

But the Cowboys' opener and Wesolowski's first game will instead be played this Friday night at Hicksville.

Last Friday's contest turned out to be "no contest'' - the official ruling of the Ohio High School Athletic Association - and not a forfeit as was initially reported.

"It wasn't anything we did at Libbey," Wesolowski said, "and it wasn't anything Hilliard Darby did. We just couldn't get it to work. It was the forces of Mother Nature."

Because of inclement weather with steady rain and lightning strikes, the game was put on hold for more than two hours. A visible lightning strike at 9:45 p.m. forced another mandatory 30-minute delay (per OHSAA rules), at which time Darby administrators, game officials and the respective coaches concurred that the game would not be played that night.

The next step was attempting to reschedule the game for the next day.

Libbey had chartered a bus to Hilliard and had made no lodging arrangements. The plan was to return to Toledo after the game

Libbey athletic director John Snyder phoned City Leaguecommissioner Ed Scrutch-ins for assistance in procuring transportation for the next day.

Darby coaches preferred a 1 p.m. start Saturday because they had plans to scout future in-conference opponents that night. That was according to Darby athletic director Chad Schulte, who clarified that his coaches would have agreed to a night-time start if necessary.

Scrutchins referred Snyder to Toledo Public Schools transportation director Brad Aemisigger, who Snyder said advised him that arrangements could not be made on such short notice.

The team would have had to leave from Libbey by 9 a.m. Saturday, just 7 1/2 hours after they had returned to Toledo from Hilliard.

Tim Stried, an assistant commissioner with the OHSAA, confirmed the game's no-contest ruling, and that each team's computer-points ratings will now be calculated using a divisor based on nine games instead of 10.

Stried said that Libbey and Hilliard Darby have the option of rescheduling the game at any point during the regular season, but Schulte said his school and Libbey will not be able to do so. They are scheduled to meet next season at Hilliard as part of a two-year contract.

"There is a procedure we use for giving those [driving] assignments, and seniority is a part of that," TPS superintendent John Foley said. "Certainly there are ways to work the system but, given the information [Aemisigger] had at the time, he told them he couldn't do that. There was no discussion of the ramifications. We just couldn't get it done on that short of notice in that time frame."

Libbey won't have a forfeit on its record, but the Cowboys' athletic department was also not able to collect the $3,500 guaranteed payment that was included in their game contract with Darby. Since the game was cancelled, tickets purchases had to be refunded.

That $3,500 represents Libbey's biggest expected one-event revenue intake for the season, according to Snyder, who said the guarantees for playing Friday at Hicksville and Sept. 11 at Bay Village Bay on Sept. 11, are $2,000 and $1,200, respectively. Snyder said that Libbey home games typically do not draw more than a few hundred spectators, and that one game last year actually cost the athletic program more to host than it received in gate revenue.

OHSAA bylaws dictate that no state tournament contests in any sport can begin after 11 p.m., but no rules are in place for regular-season contests.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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