For Pete's Sake

High school coach suspended for violating ‘lopsided’ score policy after 61-13 victory

The Plainedge High School football team in Massapequa, N.Y., is having a great season. But it was a little too good in one contest.

The Red Devils are 8-0 and have outscored their opponents 326-45, including a 61-13 victory over the South Side Cyclones on Oct. 25.

That 48-point victory put Plainedge coach Robert Shaver in hot water with Nassau County Interscholastic Athletics, which suspended him for last Saturday’s game, according to the New York Times.

His offense? Shaver broke a league rule that aims to prevent lopsided victories. The Times reported that if a team wins by more than 42 points, the coach must meet with a special committee to explain “why such an outsize margin could not be avoided.”

A NBC New York story noted: “The governing body decided that Shaver took too long to take out his regular players, and suspended him for one game. It was the first time a coach had been suspended under the rule.”

That rule appears to be unique to Nassau County, N.Y. In Missouri, a running clock is used in the second half of a game if one team has a lead of 35 points or more. Kansas has a similar rule.

“They thought it was a mismanaged game, which my opinion is, that isn’t the rule,” Shaver told Newsday, per the New York Post. “It should be: You ran up the score on purpose. That’s what the intent of the rule is for.

“What made me the most upset ... if the South Side coach complained and said, ‘This guy definitely ran up the score on us,’ well, then they should investigate. Because that’s the intent of the rule. The spirit of the rule is to prevent better teams from running up on lesser programs and sportsmanship and dignity and all that stuff. I get it. That didn’t happen.”

Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director for the high school sports association, defended the rule and said it goes beyond the final score.

“Not only do we not want to embarrass the other team, but if I have kids — second- and third-(string players) — why shouldn’t they get a chance to go in the game,” said Pat Pizzarelli told NBC New York.

Edward Salina, the superintendent of Plainedge Public Schools, believes the suspension sent the wrong message to kids.

“What are you teaching children by saying play fairly but now you are playing too well, don’t play anymore for the rest of the game,” Salina wrote in an open letter. “Where’s the life lesson? Of course we don’t want to embarrass others and we do that by moderating the players in the game. I’ve seen it numerous times over the years, by all our coaches, but especially by Coach Shaver.”

With Shaver watching with the fans, the Plainedge football team beat Lynbrook 36-0 on Saturday.

In that game, Plainedge punted ... on first down:

From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.