Penn Charter Loses Games

Posted: September 15, 1990

Two of The Inquirer's Top 10 football teams - No. 7 Norristown and No. 10 Plymouth-Whitemarsh - were scrambling yesterday to find new opponents after their scheduled games with Penn Charter were called off because of a conflict in eligibility rules.

Norristown, which had been scheduled to visit Penn Charter today, could not find an official opponent, so it will scrimmage Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey. Plymouth-Whitemarsh, which was to meet Penn Charter at home on Sept. 29, is ''desperately looking for a game," athletic director Charles Forster said.

The games were canceled Thursday, shortly after Norristown and Plymouth- Whitemarsh learned that Penn Charter had three fifth-year seniors, students who had repeated a grade, on its roster.

The PIAA, the organization that governs state championship events in Pennsylvania, prohibits member schools from playing teams with fifth-year seniors. Norristown and Plymouth-Whitemarsh are PIAA members and are also members of the Suburban One League.

Penn Charter, of the Inter-Ac League, does not belong to the PIAA. The Inter-Ac permits fifth-year seniors to play sports, if they do not turn 19 before Sept. 1. In the PIAA, older students - those who turn 19 after July 1 - are eligible, as long as they have not repeated a grade.

Penn Charter had the option of playing both games without the three students - all two-way starters - but declined. Coach Bill Gallagher said he thought that solution would be unfair to his team and to the three players.

Now, the Quakers, who beat St. Joseph's Prep, 27-0, in their opener last week, must go four weeks without a game, unless Penn Charter can find someone to play on the last weekend in September, when the Plymouth-Whitemarsh game was scheduled. The team has a bye on the third weekend, and Gallagher said some of his players had scheduled college visits that he would not ask them to rearrange.

The Quakers' next scheduled game is Oct. 6 against Valley Forge Military Academy, an independent school that regularly accepts postgraduate students. Today, instead of meeting Norristown, the Quakers are scheduled to scrimmage Frankford of the Public League, Gallagher said.

Gallagher said he disagreed with the PIAA rule, but he sympathized with the schools, especially Plymouth-Whitemarsh. "That was going to be a home game for them under the lights," he said. "Now, they're going to lose that gate, and they need that money to help keep the program going."

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