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Suspended football player to face Canisius as St. Joe's appeals

 

There will be a game.

And, more than that – a suspended football player will be allowed to take the field.

The game goes on Saturday for St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, in their annual clash against Canisius High School.

St. Joe’s confirmed Friday through a spokesman that the 1 p.m. game will go on – and also that the school has filed an appeal related to the suspension of one of their players in the aftermath of a brawl at a game last week.

But there was more.

[After the Timon-St. Joe's brawl: Schools, league remain quiet] 

The school announced a few hours later that the disciplined player will be allowed to play in the game, even though his appeal remains unresolved.

Freddie Nixon, the father of the player, told The Buffalo News that his son, Freddie, was the only player from the St. Joe’s team to receive a suspension.

“The game is on,” said spokesman Kevin Keenan, on behalf of Robert Scott, president of the school.

The game will take place at the Robert T. Scott Complex at St. Joe’s.

The week came with its share of drama, on the heels of the game-ending brawl last week.

[Gallery: Timon, St. Joe's bench-clearing brawl]

In a supportive gesture, St. Joe’s football players handed in their uniforms on Thursday, multiple sources confirmed, to stand behind Nixon, who they believe was defending himself after he had his helmet ripped off during the melee.

But Keenan said actions by the players and parents at St. Joe’s had nothing to do with the decision to appeal on Friday.

“It all boiled down to the clarification from the league on what the appeals process was,” Keenan said. “Late (Thursday) night, school officials were in contact with the league and the league clarified the appeals process. Once St. Joe’s got clarification, it filed the appeal (Friday) morning.”

Keenen said they were “waiting to hear back from the (Monsignor Martin’s) Board of Principals on the status of the request being heard.”

Charlie Comerford, athletic director and football coach at Timon, told The News on Friday that his school also is in “the process of appealing” punishment doled out by the league on Wednesday.

The fight was a memorable one.

The incident was sparked by a hit on St. Joe’s sophomore quarterback, Casey Kelly, near the Tigers’ sideline.

The hit was deemed clean by officials – but tempers flared nonetheless, with St. Joe’s coaches and players leaving their sideline to get involved in the melee. Kelly’s older brother, Ole Miss star quarterback Chad Kelly, charged the field from the stands but was restrained.

[Video: Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly had to be restrained during fight at high school game]

The game ended in a suspension, with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter. Timon led, 2-0.

The game was ruled a double forfeit Wednesday – meaning a loss for both teams. Players from both sides were disciplined, although the league didn’t provide specifics on that.

Video of the fight, on Time Warner Cable’s website, shows Nixon, who had his helmet ripped off at some point, being dragged out of the scrum. After disengaging from another person, Nixon appeared to get hit from behind by another Timon player. The two exchanged punches before being separated by coaches and players.

Rules of the sport require any player caught throwing a punch at a competitor – whether it connects or not – to be disqualified from that game and his team’s next contest.

“As we stated in our appeal, from viewing video of this game, it is clear – to St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute – that the player was dragged on the ground by a number of players from the opposing team, and in standing and trying to extricate himself –– he struck out only in order to get himself free,” Scott said in a statement. “Once free, he returned, with his coach, to the St. Joseph’s sideline.”

Comerford said last weekend after the game that blame could be meted out 50-50 in the episode.

On Friday night, Comerford said, “It’s disappointing that our kids were put in a situation where they were forced to defend themselves from the players and the adult fan who charged the sidelines unprovoked.”

Following the episode, on Thursday, St. Joe’s posted a statement on its website that read: “Although St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute is extremely disappointed with the decision of the Monsignor Martin League regarding the incident at Tifft Field on Friday evening, Oct. 7, we will abide by the decision of the league.”

But that didn’t make players – or their parents – happy.

Parents got involved in the situation, and a designated representative met with Scott on Friday afternoon to discuss the situation.

Derek Landri, first-year coach at St. Joe’s, called this uncharted territory.

“This is an unprecedented event, both the actions at Tifft and this appeal,” Landri said. “The school didn’t know how to go about the appeal.”

There’s been no word on how the St. Joe’s appeal – which is still ongoing – affects the discipline given to Timon’s players.

Comerford declined comment when asked how St. Joe’s situation affects his school’s appeal request.

Timon will play in Rochester against Aquinas on Saturday afternoon.

But the St. Joe’s coach said things are headed in a positive direction.

“The school is doing the right thing,” Landri said. “The school showed they’re here for the best interest of the boys and we’ll just adhere to the best interest of the school.”

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

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