Westhill’s dream season is technically over.
The Vikings, who were on the cusp of playing for their first winning season since 1987, forfeited four victories this morning, the CIAC announced.
Westhill must hand over wins over Trumbull, Central, Norwalk and Danbury.
They are now 1-8 heading into their Thanksgiving Day game with Stamford (2-7).
Dave Ruden caught up with Westhill AD Mike King, who declined to comment based on student matters.
Westhill football coach Frank Marcucio told Ruden, “If I had an idea the kid was ineligible he wouldn’t have played. The kids knew about it yesterday and the kids’ comment was they can’t take away what we did on the field.”
The player in question didn’t play vs. Wilton due to a suspension “unrelated to the eligibility issue,” Marcucio added, which is why that victory wasn’t forfeited.
The player didn’t play vs. Staples and wouldn’t have played vs. Stamford, Marcucio said.
And suddenly, the state playoff prospects of several regional football teams just got turned upside down. Ridgefield’s prospects brightened. Fairfield Prep’s dimmed. Greenwich and Staples could potentially lose out on the No. 1 seed.
With the regular season about to end in two days, CIAC Executive Director Karissa Neihoff told our own Dave Ruden, “This is a pretty urgent situation.”
“It’s no fault of the student-athletes because of one school’s mistake,” she told Ruden about the suddenly shifting playoff points. “To have to change your mindset is devastating.
“Now think of the Westhill kids. Boy your heart breaks for them too.”
Ridgefield picked up 20 bonus points from the move, and will get an additional 10 for beating Danbury. That vaults their Class LL playoff prospects from slim to reasonable and screwed Fairfield Prep, in the process.
Before the forfeits, a Fairfield Prep win over West Haven likely would have put the Jesuits into great position to slide into the Class LL field as the No. 8 seed.
Now, if Ridgefield beats Danbury and Fairfield Prep upsets West Haven, the Tigers will clinch the final spot.
“It’s unfortunate what happened, I feel bad for the kids,” Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan told Ruden. “Obviously we gained from this so we feel lucky about that. It fell into our laps.”
Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea told our own Pat Pickens: “It’s very disappointing for us. You want these things to be settled on the field and not taken out of your hands because of off-field events. We have a great rivalry game on Thanksgiving to look forward to and we always take pride in playing our best, so this will not impact how we play. It’s just one of those things you can’t control.”
Westhill’s forfeit also impacted the No. 1 seed prospects for the winner of Greenwich-Staples. Both schools lost 10 points, dropping the likelihood the winner will clinch the No. 1 seed over Southington.
Trinity Catholic also lost points, making their playoff scenario slightly dimmer. A win over Wilton won’t clinch, but the Crusaders will just need some slight help to secure their bid.