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Capital will be without four players, including one starting offensive lineman, for Friday's Class AAA playoff quarterfinal at University after they were ruled ineligible for participating in youth all-star games on Saturday at Poca Middle School.
The names of the players, all freshmen, were not released. They are ineligible for the remainder of the season.
Capital coach Jon Carpenter said his principal, Larry Bailey, filed a self-report with the Secondary School Activities Commission about the incident. Dozens of players ages 10-14 competed in the weekend event, but apparently the only athletes whose varsity season wasn't over came from Capital.
"It's called dual participation," said Bernie Dolan, the SSAC's executive director. "When you're involved in a team sport, you're not allowed to participate in the same team sport outside of school."
Carpenter said the situation took his coaching staff by surprise.
"It's crazy to lose four kids for the rest of the year," he said. "I've never heard of [travel all-star games in November] before. This has never been an issue in football before. I don't begrudge the kids for not knowing [the rule] because I didn't know about it.
"I was told they let all those kids play with no paperwork turned in, they didn't sign waivers or turn rosters in, nothing. They just showed up and they threw out equipment and let them play."
Dolan said players from two Kanawha Valley high school teams were involved.
"Capital was the only one who still had kids playing," Dolan said, declining to name the other school. "We just got wind of it [Monday] and we're still investigating. We hope to come to a conclusion soon.
"It hasn't been an issue with football before, but now we have all-star travel football cropping up. It could be a problem for a lot of people if you don't pay attention to the rules."
St. Albans appears to have been the other school with varsity players involved, with reports of SA coaches participating and using school football equipment.
"We may have had some kids playing," said St. Albans athletic director Rick Whitman. "We're just scratching the surface of who was playing, who was coaching - all that stuff. We're investigating and I can't comment on what it is until we're done investigating. We're trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together."
St. Albans head coach Scott Tinsley was not involved in the all-star event, as he was still recovering from a small stroke he had during his team's final regular-season game on Nov. 3. It was the second stroke in recent months for Tinsley, whose health has since improved.
"I know very, very little about it because I was in the hospital while it was going on," Tinsley said Tuesday. "I had a call from someone wanting to use our equipment for midget league all-star kids, and I had no idea it would be any of [the varsity] kids. I'm catching heck, and I'm trying to find out what's going on."
Bailey found it unfortunate that young players were caught in the middle of the situation.
"I think the kids are unfortunately the victims here," Bailey said, "of something the adults understood. You see travel teams in other sports - basketball is really big, soccer, but in football it's not something we've had to deal with. The kids truly didn't understand what was going on and were given bad advice from adults who don't have their best interests in mind. And then Capital High school and these kids get punished from the whole deal."
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