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Junior football league officials, coaches tackle weigh-in issue

November 12, 2009|By BRIDGET DiCOSMO

HAGERSTOWN -- When Washington County Junior Football League coach Todd Brant had to choose Monday between letting five of his players go through with a court-ordered weigh-in or having some members of the league's board of directors resign over the issue, he told his players to disappear.

Brant said his understanding of the situation was that if he allowed his Williamsport Vikings to weigh in before Monday's playoff game, board members would resign, and the "whole league would come to a halt right then and there."

"That tells me that they're willing to sacrifice a whole football season for one weigh-in," Brant said.

When he advised his players of the situation, they chose to leave without being weighed, Brant said.

League president Scott Paddack, who was unable to attend the board's meeting over the issue Monday, confirmed that some of the board members felt as though they would be forced to resign over the situation.

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Because of a court injunction that enjoined and restrained the league from placing red stripes on the helmets of the five players should they meet the weight requirements outlined in the league bylaws, some board members feared pending litigation that might endanger their jobs, Paddack said.

"The board was not going to be held in contempt of court," Paddack said.

Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel Dwyer issued the temporary restraining order and injunction Monday in response to an injunction request filed against the league the same day by Jonna Vinci, the mother of one of five players who were red-striped for missing a weigh-in.

Red-stripe players can punt the football but are not allowed to advance the ball by any other means, according to the league bylaws.

The rule was created with the safety of the players in mind, Paddack said.

"Somebody wrote the rule in black and white," Paddack said.

The weigh-in became an issue when the five Vikings player required to participate in a weigh-in held Nov. 4 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway did not show up.

One of the players arrived at 7:11 p.m. after a phone call was placed to one of his coaches inquiring about his whereabouts, according to the court filing, but he was told he could not weigh in.

According to the league bylaws, players wishing to remain or become ball carriers for the postseason must be reweighed before the playoff game.

"The Vikings weren't properly notified," Brant said.

Player agent Becky Payne said that while none of the Williamsport Vikings coaches received the first e-mail she sent notifying them of weigh-ins, an assistant coach received a second and third e-mail, one of which she called to confirm had gone through.

"I have communicated with the Vikings the same way for two years and never had a problem," Payne said.

The next game for the Vikings will be Sunday, when they face the Williamsport Bears. The five players in question will play but remain red-striped for the game, Paddack said.

The Washington County Junior Football League includes 18 teams and is the largest youth service organization in the county, Paddack said.

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