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But this is one of those instances we sometimes encounter in sports in which the penalty seems to exceed the severity of the crime.

State rules stipulate that a football player can only participate in four quarters of play on any given day. In other words, if a kid played in two quarters in the frosh-soph preliminary game, he can’t be on the field in any more than two quarters in the varsity game. If a player is only involved in special teams, he can exceed the four quarters. But if he plays in other types of plays, the four-quarter thing applies.

Doxxie and Barr

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 2:46 am

Central DeWitt’s football team is going to be forced to forfeit its victories over West Delaware and Maquoketa in the first few weeks of this season because it violated a state rule regarding player participation in games.

The Sabers are guilty. They actually reported the infractions themselves to the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

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But this is one of those instances we sometimes encounter in sports in which the penalty seems to exceed the severity of the crime.

State rules stipulate that a football player can only participate in four quarters of play on any given day. In other words, if a kid played in two quarters in the frosh-soph preliminary game, he can’t be on the field in any more than two quarters in the varsity game. If a player is only involved in special teams, he can exceed the four quarters. But if he plays in other types of plays, the four-quarter thing applies.

The rule can be a little difficult to understand because of those special teams exceptions and Central DeWitt got caught in a situation in which coaches miscommunicated or misinterpreted the rule.

Athletic director Kurt Kreiter did the right thing and reported the infraction to the state himself. He took the further admirable step of informing media outlets of the situation so that there would be no rumors or speculation.

DeWitt’s coaches and administrators did all the right things after discovering the mistake. But, of course, the ones who will pay the price are the players who worked so hard in practice and on the field to earn those two victories.

At least two other schools in Iowa have had to forfeit wins this season. Olds WACO and Ottumwa both used players in games who were academically ineligible. By comparison, DeWitt’s oversight seems pretty minor. You have to wonder how many times this has happened at schools where someone either didn’t realize it or didn’t report it.

“It can happen very easily,’’ said Roger Barr of the IHSAA. “All it takes is someone not keeping track of kids and putting someone in the game without realizing they’re not supposed to.’’

It would be great to see the state have an additional layer of penalties so that schools are not punished so severely for their first offense of the rule, especially when they blow the whistle on themselves, as DeWitt did.

Kreiter said at least the timing is not as bad as it might have been. The Sabers will now be 0-3, 0-1 in district play. They still have plenty of time to earn a playoff berth.

“The good news is that we discovered this now,’’ Kreiter said. “If this happened in Week 8, everything would be lost. At least now they have everything in front of them and can recover from it.’’

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