, Muskogee, OK

October 26, 2012

To play or not to play?

A hearing today will determine whether a group of suspended Sequoyah players will face Hilldale with a title at stake.

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— TAHLEQUAH — A petition was filed Thursday that would allow three — and possibly as many as all eight — suspended Sequoyah High School School football players to play in tonight’s game at Hilldale.

Today’s hearing, in which those players are asking for a temporary restraining order, is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Cherokee County District Court before District Judge Douglas Kirkley.

The three players are Niko Hammer, Tanner Sheets and Dakota Karter Woodruff. The OSSAA is listed as the defendant in each of the players’ cases.

Five other players also were suspended by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.

The players were ruled ineligible and head coach Brent Scott was suspended after Sequoyah officials learned of the violation of an OSSAA summer camp participation rule. That 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, organization with the school or by any non-family member.”

Hammer is being represented by Tim K. Baker and Maci Hamilton Jessie, who filed the petition, according to court records. Attorney Deanna Wales said she is representing Sheets and Woodruff and filed the petition seeking the restraining order on her clients’ behalf on Thursday.

Hammer is the lone plaintiff listed in his case, court records show.

Hammer’s case also provides for an inclusion of other players who were suspended for participating in camps paid for by the school or other party and names, in addition to Hammer and Sheets, Dakota Karter Woodruff, Brayden Scott, Greydon Elrod, Trenton Herron and a player only identified as “C.G.” and adds “as well as any other players” who have been suspended.

Shane Richardson, the Indians’ defensive coordinator, said Thursday he has been named the school’s interim head coach, but was not allowed to comment on the situation or game without approval of Cherokee media liaison Tera Shows. Voice messages were left for Shows at her office but were not returned.

Earlier this week, OSSAA Executive Director Ed Sheakley said the association “asked Sequoyah to investigate all of their athletic programs and see if students attended any camps and they’re in compliance with the rules.”

An appeal to the OSSAA ruling is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the association’s monthly board of directors meeting in Oklahoma City.