Ponitz to forfeit Friday’s game after on-field altercation

The Ponitz High School football team will forfeit this Friday’s game against Belmont after all the team’s players were suspended because of an altercation in last week’s game, a school official said.

The incident last Friday came in a game against Northland at Welcome Stadium. Ponitz trailed Northland 43-8 late in the first half when the game was stopped because of an on-field incident, said Dayton Public Schools director of athletics Shawna Welch. All Ponitz players who were not on the field were cited by officials as leaving the bench area and were immediately ejected from the game.

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Citing a lack of players, Ponitz forfeited the game to Northland. The 43-8 score counts as a final.

Welch said the Ponitz suspensions would be lifted after this week and Ponitz would play Thurgood Marshall in a regular season-ending game at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27. Ejections carry an automatic one-game suspension in football (two games for all other sports), according to Ohio High School Athletic Association bylaws.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but we have dealt with it,” Welch said. “We’ve been in contact with the (OHSAA) and they have been appreciative of our actions and cooperation and our expedient dealing with the matter.”

Ponitz did not practice football this week. DPS decided Ponitz players were required to attend a one-hour study table and perform one hour of community service instead. The players will not be allowed to participate in football or other sports until fulfilling those requirements.

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Beau Rugg, the OHSAA’s senior director of officiating and sport management, said there would be no additional penalties against Ponitz or DPS athletics.

Last April, the OHSAA extended the DPS athletic probationary period through June 2020 from a previous series of events that were ruled a violation of administrative responsibility and institutional control.

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The extended probation came about after the OHSAA ruled that Dunbar used an ineligible player in the boys basketball tournament last season. Dunbar’s probation was extended through June 2022, and Dunbar is ineligible to play in the 2019 postseason.

Several Northland football players also were suspended.

“It’s always unfortunate when you have an incident that takes place where the young people get out of character and get themselves in a situation in a sport that they love and they chose to participate in taken away,” Northland athletic director Mario Bowles said on Wednesday. “As a program, we’ve moved on.”

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Northland (6-2), a member of the Columbus City League North Division, is bidding for a spot in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. The Vikings are a D-I boys state basketball power, having won a state title in 2009 and finishing as runner-up in 2011. Northland has qualified for the football playoffs twice.

Ponitz is a relatively new football program that has never qualified for the postseason. Ryan Jackson is in his first season as the Golden Panthers’ head coach after succeeding Jim Place.

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Rugg confirmed Belmont will be awarded a 1-0 forfeit win over Ponitz this week. None of the five Dayton City League football teams – Belmont (3-5), Dunbar (4-4), Meadowdale (2-5), Ponitz (1-7) and Thurgood Marshall (3-5) - are in playoff contention.

It was the first time Ponitz and Northland had played in football. Bowles didn’t know if the teams were scheduled to play again next season.

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“Best wishes to the Ponitz program,” he said. “That’s an unfortunate situation as well.”

Welch confirmed some Ponitz parents confronted players and officials on the field. She said those who were identified will be consulted about “stressing the importance of allowing the coaches, officials and the athletic department staff to handle situations that are on the field like that,” she said.

“It doesn’t excuse their behavior and we’re not going to tolerate it and we’re moving forward in a positive manner. I hope people understand that kids make mistakes.”

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