CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - South Charleston's football team must forfeit its semifinal win against Brooke after the state Supreme Court overturned rulings Tuesday that had made four of its suspended players eligible to compete for the Class AAA championship.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission awarded the Nov. 27 semifinal to Brooke, setting it up with Martinsburg for a championship matchup this Saturday in Wheeling, after the justices decided unanimously in its favor.
"I'm pleased we got an expediated hearing," said Gary Ray, the SSAC's executive director. "Now we can move forward and determine a champion on the field and bring some closure to the season of football."
That means two-time defending champion South Charleston's season is over.
"We're disappointed with the Supreme Court's ruling," said Ben Salango, the South Charleston players' attorney. "However, we understand and respect the ruling. We're thankful the Supreme Court ruled in such an expedited manner so that everyone can move on."
Coaches Tom Bruney of Brooke and John Messinger of South Charleston didn't immediately return telephone messages Tuesday.
The Supreme Court concluded that Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster exceeded her authority with a pair of rulings allowing the four players to take part in the 29-28 win over Brooke and the later-postponed championship game.
Officials sought to suspend Tyler Harris, Pierria Henry, Emerson Gagnon and Trevand Reese following a fight during a Nov. 19 quarterfinal matchup with Hurricane. They petitioned Webster, arguing they were wrongly targeted only after the game concluded. Webster found that the officials' jurisdiction ended when the game did.
But Tuesday's decision cites a prior ruling from the high court that deemed as unwise "inviting courts to review an official's judgment."