Top-ranked Guthrie back in playoffs
The top-ranked team is back in the Class 5A playoffs.
Guthrie won its appeal Wednesday in front of the OSSAA Board of Directors, although the player at the center of the firestorm was denied his appeal.
Guthrie, which was 2-8 with the forfeiture of eight games due to an OSSAA ruling last week, is now 10-0. It will host Durant in the first round of the playoffs either Friday or Saturday.
However, the Bluejays will be without their head coach and maybe one of their best players for the duration of those playoffs.
The OSSAA had ruled last week that senior Clint Simek, who moved to Guthrie with his family from Prague in the spring, was ineligible. The ruling stemmed from an anonymous letter received recently by the OSSAA staff.
After an investigation, it was ruled that Simek was ineligible and that Guthrie would have to forfeit the games in which he participated. That ruling knocked Guthrie, which was 9-0 at the time, to 1-8. Simek sat out the Bluejays' 48-0 win over Southeast in Week 10.
The loss of those eight games dropped Guthrie from first place in 5A-1 to completely out of the playoffs, drastically changing the landscape of the race for the gold ball.
Simek's entire family - his mother, father and two brothers - spoke at Wednesday's hearing as they appealed that ruling of ineligibility, which was voted on separately from Guthrie's penalty.
The often-emotional appeal was denied by the OSSAA board after nearly five hours of testimony, discussion and executive sessions. Several OSSAA board members reiterated multiple times that the Simek family did everything right in its process and that the fault fell on the Guthrie staff for one piece of paperwork that was not filed.
Based partly on those reiterations, the OSSAA board was informed about four hours after its decision, through the Simeks attorney, that the Simeks would be filing a restraining order Thrusday morning regarding Clint's eligibility.
Multiple members of Guthrie's staff, incuding Supt. Terry Simpson (also an OSSAA board member who sat out his duties during this meeting), Athletic Director Gary Boxley and head football coach and AD Rafe Watkins - said they felt they'd gone through all the proper channels in gaining eligibility for Simek. Ultimately, they accepted responsibility for the error.
Although Simek's appeal was denied, the rest of the football team was more fortunate.
The Bluejays were allowed back in the playoffs, but coach Rafe Watkins will have to sit out the next eight games, beginning this week. Watkins can coach during the week, but won't be allowed on the sidelines or in the press box during games.
Other stipulations include Guthrie's football program being on warning for the next year and the forfeiture of any football playoff money this year.
The news wasn't all bad for Simek. Although his appeal was denied, part of the stipulations included that he can't play football the remainder of this season, but he will not have to sit out eight games in any other sport, which was a part of the original OSSAA ruling.
article updated on 11/9/11 17:36