By SETH STASKEY
Times Leader Sports Editor
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has formally ordered St. John Central to forfeit its season-opening football victory against Bridgeport.
OHSAA Media Information Director Tim Stried confirmed to The Times Leader Friday afternoon that the ruling had been officially made after several weeks of investigating the case.
According to Stried, the OHSAA sent a letter to St. John Central Principal Sheila Blackmore dated Oct. 9 of its findings.
The Irish were found to have used an ineligible player, according to the OHSAA's transfer bylaw 4-7-2.
St. John Central issued a prepared statement through Advancement Director Kristi Busack Paolina saying, "The administration of St. John Central High School does not agree with the recent ruling of the OHSAA enforcing a forfeiture of the SJC Football program's win over Bridgeport High School. However, St. John Central acknowledges the authority of the OHSAA to make said ruling. The results of the August contest on the field are widely known; it is in the past."
St. John Central and Bridgeport met in the opening game of the season as part of the McDonald's OVAC Kickoff Night at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Irish won the game on the field by a 14-6 score after recording two late touchdowns.
"It's sad that these things happen," said Bridgeport Superintendent Ted Downing. "It's bad for both schools. As far as we're concerned, whatever the (OHSAA) decided is what we'll live with and go on. To sit down and hash over it again wouldn't solve much. I think both schools need to move on.
"If an ineligible player is used, the state makes the final determination on it; we don't make that determination," Downing continued. "It's time to move forward."
The ruling drops the Irish's record to 2-5 entering today's game against Sherman, W.Va. Bridgeport, meanwhile, is 2-6 after actually going 1-1 on Friday.
While the forfeiture doesn't affect the Irish and Bulldogs as much in terms of the postseason, it does take a toll on other teams in both Ohio and West Virginia.
The OHSAA's new computer rankings will be released Tuesday afternoon and the changes in records and second-level bonus points will be reflected at that time.
This is the second time in three years that St. John Central has been ordered to forfeit a sporting event.
In 2010, the Irish Cross Country team had to forfeit its OVAC Class A/AA championship for use of an illegal transfer.