A high school football team in Louisiana lost their appeal on Wednesday morning as they attempted to stay in the Class 3A playoffs. The Amite Warriors were dumped from the playoffs after a bench-clearing brawl last week, and their appeal rejection means that St. James will be in the state finals next weekend in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
As reported by WWLTV, the ruling comes less than a week after the Amite Warriors defeated Bogalusa 56-20 in the semifinals of the playoffs on Friday.
Near the end of the game, a bench-clearing brawl broke out, and that was when the LHSAA suspended the entire Amite football team. The school did choose to appeal the decision, but they found out on Wednesday that it was denied and the suspension was upheld.
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board filed a lawsuit in East Baton Rouge Parish asking a judge to overturn the decision of the LHSAA, per NOLA. Superintendent Mark Kowle said that the decision to uphold the suspension is unacceptable.
“The athletic association supported the decision by executive director Eddie Bonine to keep Amite High from participating in their semifinal game Friday. I instructed our attorney to file the necessary papers in the 19th District asking that the court considered the actions of the association and possibly overturn that decision and allow our team to play Friday.”
A hearing is now tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Friday for judge William Morvant to oversee. Attorney Chris Moody explained exactly what they are looking for in filing the lawsuit on behalf of the Amite Warriors.
“We filed a petition for declaratory judgement asking for the judge to enjoin the athletic association from removing Amite from the playoff game. Then a hearing will happen to determine if the punishment was extremely harsh so any penalties should be appropriate.
“We’ll have a ruling one way or the other, whether (the judge) lets the football game go forward or not. Once the playoffs start, we can’t stop the whole playoff system. The question whether we’ll participate in the playoffs or not will be resolved Friday.”
No. 15 St. James was set to take on the 11th-seeded Amite Warriors in the semifinal round of the playoffs on Friday night. With the way things currently are, Amite is out, and St. James will go on to the state championship game on December 12 to face the winner of West Feliciana and Lutcher.
As it stands, Amite’s last action in the 2015 football season was a brawl last Friday night, which happened with less than two minutes remaining in the game. They were leading Bogalusa 56-20 at the time of the fight, and almost every single player left the bench area during the fight.
Per the rules of LHSAA, players who leave the bench area during a fight are given an automatic one-game suspension.
Moody hoped that the association would entertain a “more appropriate, fair penalty.” It was even suggested that Amite forfeit a regular season game in 2016 and not have this year’s playoffs affected by the suspension.
The main argument against the suspension is that not all kids/players violated the rules during the brawl, but all of them are having to suffer the penalty. Referees ejected no Amite Warriors players during the game or the brawl.
The Amite Warriors are hoping that the lawsuit hearing on Friday morning will change things and allow the team back into the Louisiana high school playoffs. If the judge rules against them, St. James will officially move on to the state finals in two weeks.
[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]