, Muskogee, OK

October 25, 2012

Aware of Sequoyah’s issues, Hilldale stays focused

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— Josh Giem said he called his friend Tanner Sheets to talk about the situation at Sequoyah High School on Tuesday after news leaked about eight players being ruled ineligible and head coach Brent Scott suspended by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.

Giem is a senior linebacker for Hilldale and Sheets is a senior lineman for Sequoyah. The two have been friends since meeting at track meets last spring. Hilldale and Sequoyah are playing Friday at Hilldale for the District 3A-7 championship.

“He’s mad about not getting to play,” Giem said.

Sheets confirmed he talked to Giem.

“He asked me what was going on and what the deal was. I told him everything,” Sheets said, confirming that he was among those ineligible.

Trandon Boylan, a Hilldale senior offensive lineman, said he was in the room during the conversation between Giem and Sheets.

“I would hate not to get to play for the district championship in my senior year,” Boylan said.

The action taken against the players and Scott stems from the violation of an OSSAA summer camp participation rule. The rule states that athletes are not allowed to participate in individual camps where players’ expenses are paid for by the  “school, by school personnel or by any booster group or organization associated with the school, or by any non-family member.”

A story in Wednesday’s edition of the Phoenix identified seven of eight players suspended. The list, obtained from unnamed sources by the Tahlequah Daily Press, did not include Sheets. The Phoenix has since learned that defensive end Jordan Colburn and offensive guard Ty West, who were mentioned, are not among those suspended.

Those who are suspended are considered among the team’s top players.

“We’re just going with the flow right now,” Sheets said.

Ed Sheakley, executive director of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association, said his office received identification of the players involved on Wednesday but did not identify them. Sequoyah has not officially released those names.

“We’ve asked Sequoyah to investigate all of their athletic programs and see if students attended any camps, that they’re in compliance with the rules,” Sheakley said.

Amid unconfirmed reports that an injunction hearing was being set for 1 p.m. today in Cherokee County, Sheakley said he has not heard of any injunction being filed to allow the players to play. An appeal of the OSSAA’s decision will be heard Nov. 7 at the OSSAA’s monthly board of directors meeting in Oklahoma City. But unless an emergency hearing is scheduled, the ruling will also cover Sequoyah’s final regular season game against Lincoln Christian.

Meanwhile, Sequoyah practices continue. Shane Richardson, the current defensive coordinator, is the acting head coach, Sequoyah athletic director Marcus Crittenden said in a text message.

Randon Lowe, former Muskogee High offensive coordinator, has that same position at Sequoyah.

Regardless of who is or who isn’t playing — or coaching — doesn’t matter to the Hilldale players, who can clinch the district and gain homefield advantage in the first and quarterfinal rounds of the playoffs with a win.

“That situation doesn’t concern us,” Giem said. “I’m more worried about us being ready to play.”

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at Hilldale.

“We’re going to prepare like those guys are playing,” coach Chad Kirkhart said. “Whoever shows up Friday night, we’re going to play.”