Discipline and control got thrown for a loss in the wake of the Oct. 7 brawl between Bishop Timon-St. Jude and St. Joe’s football players.
So did accountability.
From the players’ conduct on the field to how the grown-ups handled the consequences, it’s been a bad two weeks for the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association and two of its big four programs.
The brawl at Fitzpatrick Field started after a hit along the Timon sideline on St. Joe’s quarterback Casey Kelly. No one will say who or what caused the brawl, but one can easily deduce someone either said the wrong thing or misinterpreted an action following the hit on Kelly.
Throwing haymakers is unacceptable since the rules governing the sport require players to be ejected and suspended a game for throwing a punch – whether or not it connects.
It’s understandable that St. Joe’s feels its helmetless player was merely in self-preservation/self-defense mode, retaliating after being hit from behind by a Timon player after disengaging from another coming out of the scrum.
But rules are rules. Fighting is illegal.
The game was suspended with more than 30 minutes left due to the brawl and later ruled a double forfeit.
It would have been nice if both coaches, St. Joe’s Derek Landri and Timon’s Charlie Comerford, publicly shared the blame. They are the faces of their programs and responsible for the actions of all involved – good or bad.
The closest either came to doing so was Comerford saying blame could be meted out 50-50 after the incident.
Administrators from each side have since taken turns blaming the other through press releases, ignoring that it still takes two to tango.
The Monsignor Martin Association should not have taken five days to issue disciplinary action for something that demanded immediate attention.
Executive Director Brian Kiszewski resigned two days after the MMA ruled the game a double forfeit and suspended an undisclosed number of players. Kiszewski said the melee had nothing to do with him resigning, but that is hard to believe.
We’ve since learned the league’s power structure is such that the executive director can’t make any decisions without the blessing of the board of principals.
The executive director should be entrusted with the ability to dole out punishment under extraordinary circumstances without the need to ask for permission.
To put it another way, the baby-sitter should not have to call the parents to ask them if it is OK to send little Johnny and Mikey to their rooms until they cool off because they got into a fight.
That’s especially true with the melee becoming a national story because of the presence of NFL prospect Chad Kelly. Kelly, the Ole Miss star, St. Joe’s graduate and older brother of Casey, charged the field only to end up being restrained.
With all the media attention, taking five days to issue discipline on something that should have taken no more than a day is weak.
The league needs to take a cue from the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation. Should players drop the gloves and fight, they get penalized and suspended. Discipline is swift and uncompromising.
That should have been the case with the football brawl.
If St. Joe’s felt like it needed to appeal the disciplinary action, it should have done so immediately. It should not have issued a statement saying it would stand by the decision only to do an about-face a day later, claiming it had to do with failing to know the appeals process and nothing to do with internal pressure from parents and players.
Multiple sources said players turned in their uniforms in a supportive gesture of the only Marauder suspended, in essence threatening not to play the school’s rivalry game against Canisius if the brass did not appeal.
Lack of control. Lack of discipline.
What a mess, and what a black eye for Western New York football.
Klimowicz has new role
Bob Klimowicz has a new coaching gig. The longtime boys hockey coach at Frontier is moving to the girls side of the game as he will now lead the Frontier/Orchard Park/Lake Shore combined team that plays in the Western New York Girls Varsity Hockey Federation.
Klimowicz guided Frontier to one WNY Varsity Hockey final and one Section VI final during his time as coach.
“After 16 years coaching Frontier and four years coaching Brockport boys hockey, I was looking for a change,” he said. “I coach girls modified softball and enjoyed it. The (girls hockey) position opened up and I applied for it.”
Taking over as boys hockey coach at Frontier is Brian Dehlinger.
He served as an assistant last year after five seasons in the same role at Hamburg.
Dehlinger should sound familiar to folks in youth hockey circles as he has coached with the Hamburg Hawks Youth Hockey Organization for roughly 20 years.
In case girls hockey fans are wondering when Lake Shore became part of the Frontier/Orchard Park outfit, this is the first year of their merged team as Lake Shore is one of three schools that added girls hockey in partnership with other league members. Depew is now part of the Lancaster/Iroquois program, while Eden joins Hamburg/West Seneca.
Fenn to Nichols
Former Canisius High School standout and Buffalo News Player of the Year and Canisius College Athletic Hall of Famer Darren Fenn has been named boys basketball coach at Nichols.
Fenn, who is also a member of the Golden Griffins’ All-Century Team, retired last year after 14-season playing career in Europe. As a pro, he averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game in more than 520 contests. Fenn takes over for John Reinholz, who stepped down as Vikings coach last month due to increasing family and career responsibilities, according to Athletic Director Rob Stewart.
Reinholz guided Nichols to Manhattan Cups twice in his final three seasons (2014 in Class A, 2016 in Class B). The Vikings lost in the closing seconds of the 2015 Cup final to Canisius, which wound up winning the state Federation championship.