Last week, four games into his senior season of high school football, JD Recor was called into the office of Bishop Timon-St. Jude coach and athletic director Charlie Comerford. Comerford told Recor that he had to sit out Friday night?s home opener against St. Mary?s.
?It was heartbreaking,? said Recor. ?Not being able to be able to play in your home opener your senior year, it stinks.?
Recor, who transferred from Lancaster to Timon halfway through his junior year, was ruled ineligible by the Monsignor Martin Association under the same rule that prevents athletes from transferring into MMA schools for their senior season.
That rule is pretty easy to understand. The timing of the application of this rule is not.
As we sort this out – as they say in school – pay attention.
Recor is primarily a lacrosse player, and a very accomplished one at that. He has verbally committed to Marist. After his transfer last winter, he played lacrosse as a junior for Timon. He will play again next spring. There is no problem with his lacrosse eligibility.
The problem is that he played football for Lancaster as a junior.
He wanted to play football at Timon as well, a fact that was acknowledged in the transfer paperwork filed to the league last winter by both Recor and, according to Comerford, by Timon. Recor stated that he had played both sports at Lancaster and sought to continue to play both at Timon. With the paperwork filed, Recor went on to play lacrosse, and at no point was Timon told that there was a problem with any eligibility.
Recor spent the summer working out with his football teammates, five days a week. He was in training camp in August, and played in the Tigers? 21-14 season-opening win at Williamsville South (he played well, running for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the game).
After Timon?s opening game, a complaint was filed with the Monsignor Martin Association about Recor. The league then told Timon that Recor was ineligible. Timon appealed the decision, during which time Recor could still play. Timon thought it had a good chance of winning the appeal, so it did not tell Recor this was going on – I can understand that: Why deliver beyond-his-control bad news that might not turn out to be bad news at all?
The appeal took three weeks. The appeal was denied.
?It was shocking,? Recor said of his being told he could not play last week. ?I was pretty angry when I first heard it. I thought, how can it happen, because we did everything right. We weren?t hiding anything.?
Recor and his family said they appealed to the Monsignor Martin?s principals, and that was denied. Recor?s father, Dave, said there is one final appeal that they are making through the league, one that will be heard by a separate committee. Dave Recor said that if that committee does not restore Recor?s eligibility, he and his lawyer will seek legal action to allow Recor to play.
?If they would have said that within two weeks [of filing the paperwork], the rule is the rule and that?s that, we could have accepted that,? said Dave Recor. ?Seven months later, that doesn?t seem right. The only one suffering, is my 18-year-old son who just wants to play football. He just wants to play.?
Monsignor Martin Association president Brian Kiszewski was not able to be reached to comment.
Dave Recor said the family?s reason for the transfer to Timon was that they wanted a smaller class environment for JD to get his grades up and for him to be a part of the Tigers? outstanding lacrosse program. Football was not a major motivating factor in the move.
Timon is certainly a better team with Recor on the field, but they are a top 10 large school either way. This isn?t about the team or the school, which also filed the correct paperwork.
In the big picture, this is about a senior who wants to play. So how about we find a way to make that happen?
I understand the letter of the law and the rule is understandable. But the timing of how this unfolded was terrible and could have been avoided. Nowadays, every sport is a year-round affair. Recor prepared for a football season because his paperwork had been filed and his transfer to play lacrosse was without issue. This current situation, and this entire appeal process, is one that could have been prevented.
?We weren?t trying to hide,? Dave Recor said. ?Everyone knew he played [football] last year. That?s why we filled out the waiver. He played lacrosse in the spring. Within two weeks we should have known if it was denied.?
If the Recors don?t win the appeal, how about a compromise?
Recor has already sat out one game. He?s likely to sit out another this weekend as the appeal process continues. The league can order him to sit out another game or two, a significant price to pay in what is a nine-game regular season.
There are some who may claim that letting Recor play will lead to more mid-year transfers where football players will move from school to school. No it won?t. If anything, this episode will keep the league, and its schools, on its collective toes so that a situation like this doesn?t happen again.
There?s no reason for a high school senior to have the turf ripped out right from under his feet.
Senior quarterback Ryan Dougherty, who was knocked out of that season-opening win at Williamsville South with a torn ACL, made his surprising return to the field during Timon?s 28-21 win over St. Mary?s Friday night.
?It was the best feeling after being out and sitting out,? said Dougherty. ?To not be there against tough teams, it just kills you not being out there. The doctor told me I could possibly come back since I?m a drop-back quarterback. I rehabbed pretty hard and got a pretty sturdy brace. I can move well, take all my drops. The first time I wore the brace I had to do it in front of the doctor, and I was almost shocked how much it helped.?
Timon coach Comerford said that it?s great to have Dougherty back, both for his arm and for his leadership.
?As far as we were concerned, it was his family?s decision ... we?re thrilled to have him back,? Comerford said. ?He?s like a coach on the field. If you didn?t know he was injured [earlier], you wouldn?t have noticed it Friday.?
Around the halls
? There is some must-see-PrepTalkTV at buffalonews.com, including St. Joe?s coach Dennis Gilbert and son Dennis Jr. talking about the Marauders? big win at Aquinas.