Wilson loses spot in Turkey Bowl due to ineligible player; Anacostia replaces Tigers

Wilson has been disqualified from Thursday’s Turkey Bowl after an investigation revealed the program had used an ineligible player earlier this season, D.C. Public Schools announced Sunday.

Anacostia, which lost 40-20 to Wilson in last week’s DCIAA semifinal, will replace the Tigers in the 43rd annual Thanksgiving day game against Dunbar at Eastern High School.

“Within the last 48 hours, it was determined that this player is in fact a non-resident and therefore ineligible to play football for Wilson,” DCPS said in a statement. “While DCPS regrets any confusion or frustration this may cause, it is important to ensure the integrity and fairness of the game.”

In the statement, DCPS confirmed that “after reviewing tapes of games, Wilson High School administration and coaches determined this [ineligible] player played in two league games,” and therefore was not eligible for postseason play due to forfeiture of those games. DCPS athletic director Stephanie Evans said Sunday that Wilson will forfeit between “six and eight” games that the player participated in this season, and that its 8-3 record will be adjusted accordingly this week after it is officially determined how many games the player participated in. Wilson was set to make its first Turkey Bowl appearance since 1991. Evans declined further comment, as did Wilson Coach Mark Martin.

In an e-mail sent to parents Sunday obtained by the Post, Wilson Principal Peter Cahall acknowledged the ineligible player and accepted “full responsibility for any errors or mistakes that occurred at the school level.” Cahall also said the school has appealed the ruling.

“I cannot at this time accept the decision of the District of Columbia Public Schools and have made a formal appeal to the State Superintendent of Schools based on information that the rules have not been fairly and consistently administered,” Cahall wrote.

Soon after their semifinal loss to Wilson, Anacostia coaches washed, inventoried and stored all the helmets, shoulder pads and equipment. But it was all quickly pulled out of storage for their first practice on Sunday afternoon. Anacostia officials had heard news on the decision might have come down Saturday, but didn’t get an official word of the switch until late Saturday.

“It obviously puts us in a tough position that we only get four days of practice before we go out and play,” said Walter Bond, Anacostia’s athletic director. “. . . We’re going to work with what we got. Obviously, we would have liked to be in the Turkey Bowl by beating Wilson, but short of that we’re going to do as told.”

The Indians, who finished 6-5 this season, will take part in the annual Turkey Bowl luncheon at the Verizon Center Monday.

This is the second time in three years that a team has been disqualified from the Turkey Bowl after receiving a berth. In 2010, Ballou was dropped from the game after a DCPS investigation turned up that the school had used an ineligible player in a semifinal win over Dunbar. Ballou appealed the ruling, but it was upheld and Dunbar replaced them in the contest.

The Crimson Tide (8-3), which dealt with its own wave of DCPS sanctions last year , will be making its third consecutive appearance in the Turkey Bowl.

James Wagner contributed to this report.

 
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