TROY, NY (NEWS10) — The La Salle Cadets were riding high Friday night after a 20 to 15 win over Bethlehem, locking up the two seed in the Capital Division, and clinching a home playoff game. But excitement, quickly turned to devastation. Just a day later, the team found out Section 2 had disqualified them from the playoffs.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said senior Will Kelly. “Everyone on the team was really looking forward to that game against Queensbury. Ever since we were freshmen we wanted to win a playoff game here at La Salle, and we never got our chance.”
The Cadets never got that chance due to a rules violation. The NYSPHSAA rule book states a football player can participate in both the junior varsity and varsity football games if the player plays in 10 or less snaps in one of the two contests, and if there is a two night rest period between the two contests. The Cadets scheduled their games within that two day rest period. They admitted to misinterpreting the rule in a statement sent out by the school. The statement read in part, “Unfortunately, our games are scheduled within that two-day rest period. We misinterpreted the two-day rest requirement and permitted our players to play on Saturday morning.”
Head coach John Audino took accountability for the violation. “I’m very disappointed that I made the mistake,” said Audino. “That’s on me. Unfortunately, the younger guys are suffering for an adult mistake and that obviously disappoints me very much and I’m devastated for the kids.”
The overall feeling amongst the players, particularly the upper classmen? Helpless frustration. “Everybody was kind of shocked, ” said junior Patrick McDonough. “It’s sad because there’s nothing we did, us players did, to control it and there’s nothing we can do now to control it.”
“It was a mistake, but it wasn’t our mistake,” added senior Matt Bott. “I think that punishing the student-athletes for something that didn’t involve us is just unfair.”
Audino says he never thought what he called a minor infraction would affect the students’ playoff dreams. That’s why he and the administration tried to provide Section 2 with alternative punishments. “I was willing in my own mind to do whatever I had to do,” said Audino. “If they wanted to suspend me or any of the coaches or even take away a game next year, do that, because obviously the rule was broken and there’s certainly consequences when you do that.”
Despite those alternatives, Section 2 ultimately decided to disqualify La Salle from postseason play. NEWS10 ABC reached out to the Section 2 executive committee. They sent a statement that read in part, “The Section 2 executive committee emphasizes the importance of upholding the rules and regulations set forth for all athletic programs. This decision reflects our commitment to ensuring fairness, integrity, and accountability in all interscholastic sports.”
The Cadets do not agree with the punishments handed down. “I think their decision was wrong,” said Kelly. “I feel like they should give us a shot and that we deserve the two seed.”
“The rule we broke didn’t give us an advantage on the varsity level,” said Bott. “It was a JV problem. Punishing the athletes for something that didn’t help us and didn’t involve us is not fair.”
La Salle will instead play Albany in a cross-over game.