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— The Class 3A football playoffs, which were suspended last week after a Russellville judge decided that he didn’t like the Arkansas Activities Association rules on player eligibility and then ordered an ineligible team included, went forward last Friday.

The judge issued an injunction which resulted in Atkins being dropped from the playoffs in favor of Lamar even though it had been revealed that Lamar had used an ineligible player for all of their conference victories. AAA director Lance Taylor and a AAA committee ruled Lamar ineligible for the playoffs, citing numerous reasons for their action.

However, Judge Gordon McCain must have felt that written and established law was no match for his personal wisdom and ordered that the AAA’s rules and rulings be tossed aside.

Last week, Mr. Taylor of the AAA said that “With guidance of the AAA Board of Directors and our legal council, the AAA has decided it was in the best interest of our member schools and student athletes to begin the Class 3A state football playoffs. Iwant to thank all our member schools for their support and encouragement in this unprecedented procedure in our history.”

This will now make the 3A state final game Dec.

18, the day schools dismiss for Christmas vacation.

War Memorial Stadium is not available on that date so that state final will be played in Estes Stadium at the University of Central Arkansas. All those basketball coaches who are waiting to get some of the football players out for basketball will have to wait a little longer. In all likelihood, there will be some conference basketball games played before some players are through withfootball.

Lamar celebrated their legal inclusion into the playoffs with a 35-0 drubbing of Parker’s Chapel High School. Parker’s Chapel was the school that had earned their first ever trip to the state playoffs. Theyhad chartered a bus for the game which was supposed to be at Paris High School only to have the game canceled the day of the kickoff, resulting in their losing over $2,000 in reservation money. For Parker’s Chapel to then have to play the school that caused them so much grief must have added insult to injury.

Of course, this case is far from over. The AAA cannot allow every single sitting judge in the state of Arkansas to have veto power over any and all decisions they may make as a governing body. They went along with Lamar’s actions rather than deal even more punishment to the other playoff teams who didn’t deserve the hand they were dealt. The AAA did say in a press conference that should a higher court rule that Judge McCain exceeded his authority, then everyone of Lamar’s playoff victories will be declared a forfeit with other possible penalties to be meted out.

Holtgrewe All-State

Junior cross country runner Colton Holtgrewe’s 12th place finish placed him in the top 10 percent of the runners in the 4A statefinal, therefore qualifying him for inclusion into the 2009 4A All-State Cross Country team.

Arkansas only medals 10 runners at the state meet, which I think is the only state that is so stingy with awarding their athletes.

Missouri awards their top 25 runners at the state meet as does Kansas with Oklahoma awarding their top 15 finishers per class.

I know of no other state that awards a percentage of runners all-state honors. If you think about, it would seem unwise in that it allows slow runners the power to take honors away from other runners. In this year’s race, the 111th and last place runner came in at over 33 minutes. Had this runner decided to drop out of the race before the finish, then the 12th place finisher would not have been awarded all-statestatus. (With 110 finishers, it allows only 11 all-state honorees.)

I would suggest that it would be entirely fit and proper for the top 15 runners in all classes be awarded medals as well as all-state honors.

Instead of “doing the math,” they could just dothe right thing.

Playoffs in full throttle

Two more 4A-1 teams bit the dust last week, leaving Shiloh as the lone district representative in the football playoffs.

Gravette and Prairie Grove were both hammered last week, with Gravette continuing their late season slump getting clobbered by Heber Springs 42-7. Prairie Grove was crushed as well, albeit to a much stronger team in Nashville. Nashville whipped the Tigers 49-12 ending Prairie Grove’s late season surge.

Nashville now takes on Shiloh on the Saints’ home turf this Friday. The Democrat-Gazette had a feature story on Nashville recently, as they have been one of the most successful teams in the past decade.

Former Siloam Springs coach Billy Dawson has been their most recent skipper. Although a Bentonville graduate, he had gone to school in Nashville most of his life and had always considered that his real home. He came to Siloam after coaching successfully in some smaller schools. Althoughapproached years ago for the Bentonville job, he had expressed no interest in that particular opportunity choosing to stay with Siloam but when Nashville came calling, it was a different story.

Shiloh is favored to win but if there is any chance that Nashville can pull it out, I would not be shocked in the least by an upset.

Meanwhile in the 7A playoffs, Fort Smith Southside shocked heavily-favored Bentonville for the second time this year, edging the Tigers 27-24. I was listening on the radio and the ending was truly a shocker. Having no time outs, with less than 60 seconds left in the game, and facing 4th and long at midfield, Bentonville appeared to have the game locked up as the Southside quarterback was surrounded by Tigers deep inthe backfield. However, it seems the defensive backs thought the same thing as they abandoned coverage of the deep receivers, one of which was spotted by the desperate signal caller standing all alone near the end zone. As Yogi Berra often said, “It ain’t over until its over.”

Sports, Pages 8 on 11/25/2009

Print Headline: Ridger Sports State Athletic Association accepts judge’s rules, for now

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