by Aaron Garcia
On Oct. 4, Piedmont High School was fined $750 for violating the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s eight-quarter rule. According to a press release from Union County Public Schools’ communications department, four Piedmont juniors played in junior varsity games and then dressed out for the varsity games in the same week.
Although the players didn’t take the field – in varsity contests against Porter Ridge, Concord J.M. Robinson and Forest Hills — they violated the state rule by simply dressing for the game.
Piedmont Principal Jonathan Bowers said football coach Frank Ambrose was unaware the team violated the rule.
“Coach Ambrose did not believe that juniors fell under the eight-quarter provision, therefore could play up and down between JV and varsity as long as they didn’t exceed the allotted number of games in a given season,” Bowers said in the UCPS press release.
Ambrose did not return phone calls from Union County Weekly seeking comment.
The NCHSAA’s eight-quarter rule states that “in emergency situations only freshman and/or sophomore junior varsity football players will be allowed a maximum of eight quarters per season of ‘on the field’ play as a varsity football player.”
The four Piedmont players will only be allowed to participate in JV games for the rest of the season.
The standard punishment for such a violation is $1,500, but Piedmont athletics director Bob Gearhart said the fine was decreased to $750 because the school self-reported the infraction. More important, the Panthers won’t be forced to forfeit any of their wins.
“The football team is doing their best to move past (the incident),” Gearhart told Union County Weekly.
Spartans ready for conference play
Sun Valley High School football coach Scott Stein has reiterated one ideal since the beginning of the 2010 season: his Spartans didn’t need to be a good team until Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference play began on Friday, Oct. 8, against Anson Senior.
But what the Spartans have done so far is hard to ignore. The team started 3-0 before embarking on a road trip that took them to Asheville, Wilmington Hoggard and Bessemer City high schools. The Spartans fared well, winning two of the three games despite losing quarterback Ryan Smith to a concussion in the team’s Sept. 17 loss to Asheville.
“I think this particular group is a resilient group,” said Stein. “I thought they stepped up and made some good plays and did what they needed to do to win some ball games.”
Sophomore Kevin Saxton was strong in relief of Smith, leading the Spartans to wins over Hoggard and Bessemer City. Now, with Smith returning to the lineup this week, the Spartans can feel assured that their backup has invaluable experience should he be called on again.
Now it’s time for the Spartans to face Anson Senior, and Stein likes his team’s progress so far.
“As far as getting things going together, it’s not that Anson is that important to us, but we have to be a good football team by the time they come rolling into town,” said Stein. “That’s what we’ve focused on.”
Stein said Anson’s 2-4 record is deceiving since two of those losses have come at the hands of powers Richmond Senior and Pageland, South Carolina’s Central High.
“We have to come out and play physical football,” said the coach. “Anson’s going to try to come out and smash-mouth us a little bit, but we’ve seen a lot of that. When you get to conference, your blood has to get a little thinner, and you’ve got to be ready to play football for 48 minutes. Hopefully, our non-conference (schedule) has gotten us ready for that position. We’ve played some tough teams at home and the road, and I don’t know that anyone else has put themselves through that except for Anson County.”