The Damascus High football program, already under intense scrutiny after five of its junior varsity players were charged in an alleged rape of their teammates last year, will be forced to forfeit games this fall after holding an illegal offseason practice last month.

According to a letter sent Tuesday evening to the Damascus community by Jeffrey K. Sullivan, director of systemwide athletics for Montgomery County Public Schools, returning players and coaches at Damascus held a practice at the school’s stadium May 19.

“The practice occurred during a restricted period, in which there are parameters in place regarding the number of returning players and the ability of coaches to coach teams outside of the confines of the official season,” Sullivan wrote in the letter.

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Damascus’s varsity and junior varsity teams will be forced to forfeit the first game of the 2019 season as part of the sanctions for the illegal practice, which came less than a week after the school district’s superintendent, Jack Smith, announced the program would be placed under probationary review after failing to monitor the locker room in which five junior varsity players allegedly raped several teammates with a broomstick last Halloween. Officials at Damascus waited more than 12 hours to notify police about the credible allegations.

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Four of the alleged assailants, all of which were 15 at the time, were initially charged as adults; each of those cases has been transferred back to juvenile court.

Damascus Principal Casey Crouse stepped down in early May, while the school’s athletic director, Joe Doody, and junior varsity coach, Vincent Colbert, are no longer in their positions.

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The school’s longtime varsity coach, Eric Wallich, remains and is expected to lead the program next season. Under Wallich, who took over in 2008, Damascus won a Maryland record 53 straight games and three consecutive state titles from 2015 to 2017. That streak was believed to be the longest in the country before it was snapped with a loss to Oakdale in the state playoffs last November.

Sullivan’s letter regarding May’s illegal practice did not reference Wallich, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

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