Fourteen football players are among the 45 students and cheerleaders receiving athletic suspensions this week by Tahoma High School for violation of the athletic code.
The Bears (6-3) play second-ranked Camas (9-0) tonight (Friday) at 7:30 p.m. in a Class 4A preliminary playoff game at Doc Harris Stadium in Camas
Coach Tony Davis said all 14 players were either starters or would have seen “significant time” in the game. The remaining players are rallying together.
“At first, there’s that shock,” Davis said. “Then they got refocused. That’s one thing we always talk about, focusing. It’s not what happens, it’s how you respond, and we’ve got great leaders.”
New players are anxious to step up, according to Davis.
“We’ve got a group of kids ready to go who want to make everyone proud with the opportunity they have,” he said.
Administrators got wind of one Halloween party with drugs and/or alcohol present on Monday and a second came to light on Tuesday, according to Davis, who is also the school’s athletic director. Investigations followed.
The night before the parties, the football team beat Jefferson, 10-7, to secure a playoff berth.
The school district sent out an e-mail and letter to Tahoma families Thursday, saying 41 student-athletes were being disciplined. That number had grown to 45 as of Friday morning, according to Kevin Patterson, the district’s communications director.
Twelve of those suspended are cheerleaders. The only other fall sport affected is girls soccer, which lost four players. Without them, the Bears won their West Central District match over 10th-ranked Jefferson Thursday night, 2-1 on penalty kicks.
The other athletes are scheduled to be involved in upcoming sports – wrestling (4), baseball (7), boys soccer (2) and softball (2). Should the spring-sport athletes (baseball, boys soccer, softball) decide to participate in a winter sport, their suspensions could be served then, Patterson said.
The district’s sanctions are based on 25% of the number of regular-season contests allowed by the WIAA, which varies by sport. In football, for instance, 10 games are allowed, so the suspension is 2.5 games – and any remaining would carry over to the next sport season or even the 2015 season, if the player is an underclassman who plays football only. Soccer is a 16-game regular season, which means missing four.
The punishment could be up to 50% if a student-athlete is not honest about his or her violation and further digging is required, but Davis said none feel into that category.