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Rogersville Middle principal calls exclusion from football playoffs 'inappropriate'

Jeff Bobo • Oct 1, 2019 at 3:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Parents, students, faculty and especially football players from Rogersville Middle School were frustrated to learn last week that their postseason was taken away because of an 11th-hour playoffs cancellation. 

RMS finished the regular season 7-1, earning a No. 2 seed in the Big 3 Conference.

The original playoff bracket, established before the season began, called for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams from the Big 3 and the Watauga conferences to play a two-round postseason.

The victors in the first round would face off in the championship game.

The playoff schedule was altered 

RMS Principal Greg Simpson told the Times News on Monday that representatives from each participating team created and agreed upon the regular season and postseason schedule in May.

The playoff schedule was altered, however, when no teams from the Watauga Conference claimed the No. 2 seed position. As a result the playoffs were cancelled.

“We were never told who was No. 2 seed in Watauga,” Simpson told the Times News. “They just said they didn’t have a team to participate at the No. 2 seed. 

The Big 3’s No. 1 seed, Colonial Heights Middle, and Watauga’s No. 1 seed, Chuckey-Doak Middle, will play each other Thursday for the district championship. 

“Postseason play should have continued”

“Due to two school systems pulling out of the agreed upon playoff schedule, we received notification that participating districts were changing postseason schedules to dismiss playoffs and proceed straight to a championship game between Watauga Conference and Big 3 Conference’s number one seeds,” Simpson said. “The reason provided Rogersville Middle School for this cancellation was that the Watauga Conference did not have a team able to participate in postseason play.”

Simpson added, “It is our opinion that postseason play should have continued with a first round of playoffs as originally scheduled. Historically, if a bracket spot is empty, the opposing team receives a bye and proceeds to the next round; a forfeiture is counted for the team choosing to not participate.”

“We're done with the issue”

Attempts to contact Colonial Heights Middle Principal Bull Dunham on Monday were unsuccessful. Chuckey-Doak Middle Principal Steven Broyles told the Times-News on Monday he wasn’t aware of a controversy.

“As far as I'm concerned, the only thing I've ever known about it is our first place team is playing their first place team for this championship,” Broyles said. “As far as we're concerned we're going to play Thursday night, and we're done with the issue.”

“We plan to celebrate as a championship team”

Several parents contacted the Times-News late last week and over the weekend about the situation. The gist of their message was that players and the RMS community feels cheated because they achieved their goal of reaching the playoffs and then were cheated of the opportunity to compete.

“RMS considers the original agreed upon schedule as valid,” Simpson said. “The change was decided by other participating districts; Hawkins County was not included in the conversation. Since football postseason play is not sanctioned by TMSAA, there is no governing body to make a decision regarding playoffs or championships.”

Simpson added, “We feel our student athletes have earned their spot in the postseason, and changing a postseason bracket just before the end of regular season play is inappropriate. RMS did not lose any playoff game, and we were fully prepared to participate in the scheduled rounds. Therefore, all requirements of a championship team have been met, and we plan to celebrate as a championship team.”

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