Vandy forced to forfeit football game; Ellender wins


Ellender's Jarred Turner (10) tries to break the tackle of Vandebilt Catholic's Patrick Hernandez (51) on Friday night at Buddy Marcello Stadium in Houma. (Photo by Benjamin Oliver Hicks/Staff)


The Vandebilt Catholic football team has been forced to forfeit Friday night's 34-14 District 7-4A home victory over Ellender for using an ineligible player.

The player was ejected in a game at Morgan City High on Nov. 1, Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Kenny Henderson confirmed on Saturday.

Henderson said a penalty ruling was sent to the school Saturday morning and that according to LHSAA rules, a student ejected for fighting must sit out the next game.

If that player does not sit out the next game, he is automatically ineligible, which led to the forfeit. The LHSAA ruled the Vandebilt player in question was in fact ejected for fighting on Nov. 1 and did not sit out Friday night's game.

A spokesman with the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux confirmed the ruling in a brief statement sent to The Courier and Daily Comet.

"Vandebilt Catholic High School is saddened by this unfortunate set of circumstances," the statement said. "We accept the ruling made by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association."

But Chuck Hawthorne, the father of the player, Chase Hawthorne, a senior tight end, said during a phone interview on Saturday night that his son, who he said did throw a punch in retaliation after being the victim of numerous late hits in the game on Nov. 1, was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct against Morgan City and not for fighting. But because the Vandebilt administration did not report the incident to the LHSAA by Monday, it was automatically considered a fighting incident, which led to the forfeit after Chase Hawthorne played against Ellender on Friday night, Chuck Hawthorne said.

"This past Monday, our football coach or our athletic director was supposed to call the athletic association and say there was an incident where we had a player ejected. By failing to do that, the school put him into a fight situation," Chuck Hawthorne. "If there is a fight, There has to be more than one individual fighting, but there was one person ejected from the Morgan City game, and that was Chase. The Louisiana Athletic Association told us (Saturday) that the administration (should have reported it on Monday). The individual that is responsible is (Vandebilt Principal) Mr. Jim Reiss, who is the acting athletic director."

The National Federation of State High School Associations, whose rules the LHSAA follow, defines fighting as:

?"Any attempt by a player or non-player to strike or engage a player or non-player in a combative manner unrelated to football. Such acts include, but are not limited to, attempts to strike an opponent(s) with the arm(s), hand(s), leg(s) or foot (feet), whether or not there is contact."

Chuck Hawthorne said his son thought he went through the proper channels to become eligible for Friday's games after the unsportsmanlike ejection by completing a sportsmanship course as directed by two assistant coaches on Tuesday and sending it back to the LHSAA. He added because the incident was upgraded from unsportsmanlike to fighting because it was not reported by Vandebilt on Monday, unbeknownst to the Hawthornes or anyone at Vandebilt, Chase was ineligible for the Ellender game.

The forfeit drops Vandebilt, which fired head coach Brad Villavaso on Monday after a dispute with a player and the administration, to 6-4 overall and 3-1 in district, and improves Ellender's record to 5-5 in 2-2 in district.

Chuck Hawthorne added Villavaso should not be blamed for the forfeiture or Vandebilt not reporting the incident to the LHSAA because of what happened concerning the coach's job on Monday.

The penalty ruling from the LHSAA also said the incident was reported by an LHSAA member school, the Terriers football program will be on administrative probation for a year, the school will be fined $200, the head coach will be forced to complete online classes, and Chase Hawthorne will not be allowed to play in the team's next game.

Vandebilt will likely hit the road in the Division II select playoffs, which begin next week, while the win for Ellender could push the Patriots into the Class 4A non-select playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Patriots will likely be on the road in the first round of the postseason.

"It's a great opportunity for our kids, especially those seniors, who have stuck it out," Ellender coach Terry Washington said. "Our school and community are very excited to be in the playoffs and feel that this is going to be great for the program moving forward."

Official brackets will be released today.

The forfeit also put Vandebilt and South Terrebonne into a tie for the district title after both teams finished 3-1 in league play. District champions receive automatic berths into the playoffs.

 

VANDEBILT, VILLAVASO FAIL TO RESOLVE ISSUES

A spokesman with the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux said Saturday that Vandebilt Catholic's administration and Villavaso failed to resolve their differences on an issue involving the Terriers football team this week.

Villavaso was fired by the school on Monday due to a disagreement with Vandebilt's administration on whether a player would be allowed to return to the team.

The player, junior running back Gage Corte, returned to the team this week and played in Vandebilt's District 7-4A game against Ellender on Friday.

In a press release sent by the spokesman to The Courier and Daily Comet, Villavaso requested to meet with the school's administration on Thursday.

The release said the administrators agreed to meet with the coach "in the spirit of reconciliation."

However, the release said that the two parties failed to come to an agreement on certain matters.

"The differences were not resolved," the release said. "Therefore no changes were made or will be made in this matter."

Villavaso hasn't commented on the situation since his firing on Monday.

The diocese spokesman said the team's assistant coaches will coach the team for the rest of the season.

— Staff writer Chris Singleton contributed to this report.