MCDONOGH — The No. 6 McDonogh Eagles and the No. 21 St. Vincent Pallotti Panthers were ready to clash on Saturday night in a battle between a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference power and the reigning B Conference champions.
Then, on Friday at 4:30 p.m., the contest was downgraded to a scrimmage, and roughly 10 minutes before kickoff on Saturday, the whole thing was officially cancelled.
As players warmed up for the scrimmage, members of the Pallotti team crossed midfield, apparently talking trash to McDonogh players. New reports claim the two sides — players in general — have trash-talked back and forth for the past week. McDonogh coach Dom D’amico subsequently yanked his team off the field and opted not to play, avoiding the possibility of things escalating.
Depending on who you ask, Pallotti coaches were also involved in the pregame verbal bombard. No statement has been made on whether the league will get involved to take disciplinary action or not.
The plan was to play three game-like quarters with starters, and then use second and third-stringers in the fourth and final frame.
Now to clarify why an actual game wasn’t played: On Friday afternoon, Pallotti athletic director Pat Courtemanche, also the chairman of the MIAA football committee, notified McDonogh athletic director’s Mickey Deegan and Matt MacMullan that the Panthers have six starters and key players who have not completed the league’s heat acclimatization policy and were therefore ineligible to play in the Week 0 opener.
According to MIAA rules, players must complete the 14 days of practice to meet the policy before an actual game is played. Players missed days for doctor’s appointments or going out of town, Katherine Dunn of the Baltimore Sun reports.
And since the MIAA decided to start practice on August 10, one practice missed means ineligibility on opening night.
“The league made the choice to start [practice] 14 days before the first open date,” Pallotti coach Ian Thomas told The Baltimore Sun of the Aug. 10 starting date. “The guys had no room for error for missing practices, so there were guys who only missed one practice and didn’t have 14 practices, so unfortunately we couldn’t play. They were mostly guys in positions that we were lacking [depth] and we would have been forced to put freshmen in and I don’t think that would have been a safe thing to do.”
Though Pallotti technically forfeited the contest, D’amico said both teams will remain 0-0 since the contest flipped to a scrimmage the night prior.
Both sides will now turn to Week 1, as McDonogh welcomes La Salle College out of Wyndmoor, Pa. next Friday at 6 p.m., while Pallotti prepares for St. Mary’s out of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference next Friday at 7 p.m.