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Prep football: UHSAA to allow East to participate in playoffs

UHSAA trustees flip panel’s decision to ban Leopards from playoffs.

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Timpview’s forfeits of region games against Mountain View and Maple Mountain means the Bruins break out of a three-way tie with Springville and Salem Hills for outright fifth place. The Red Devils and the Skyhawks had been preparing for a play-in game to determine who would get a shot. Timpview could play Logan, the defending state champion in the first round.

The resulting scramble has mixed up many coaches around the state, and left others not knowing what to say to their players who now will be at home this year.

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"When we left the meeting, we would have understood if East was out, then we were out," Springville coach Willy Child said. "Our kids see in the media that East is in, they think we’re in too, because Timpview’s forfeits must have been overturned. Then we have to tell them we’re not in. They didn’t understand it before, now they really don’t understand it."

For East, it was a ray of sunlight for a school plagued by storms in the last week.

"Our kids get to play, that’s the most important thing," a weeping Matich said after Sagers told him the panel’s ruling. "I can handle the other stuff. Our kids get to play."

Players, who had gathered together at the East campus for a potluck, were quick to celebrate as well. The ruling released them from the dread of having played their last game.

With Friday’s ruling, they know they could be the subject of anger, and said they were prepared.

"We hope they understand where we’re coming from," junior Korey Rush said. "If they don’t, we hope everybody gets the real story."

But even those who had defended East were confused by the logic of the ruling the UHSAA handed down. John Haning, the principal at Woods Cross who had led the Region 6 panel, argued stringently on their behalf, calling for the association to "do what’s right for kids."

But Haning’s original ruling had also been made with the intent to avoid affecting other teams from other regions. He said East’s No. 4 seed gave him mixed feelings.

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"I wouldn’t want to be Herriman right now," Haning said. "I guess that was what they thought the harshest punishment they could’ve given was without hurting the kids at East. But it doesn’t seem fair to everyone else in the state. I’m not sure how I feel about that."


Twitter: @kylegoon

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