Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dumont, Mahwah Battle off the Field

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dumont, Mahwah Battle off the Field

Article excerpt

Citing competitive imbalance and player safety, Dumont is prepared to forfeit its football game next fall against Mahwah.

"Mahwah will not release us from the game," said Dumont athletic director Mike Oppido. "It's not that they can't find another game to replace us. It's solely based on them not wanting to release us.

"All that we are looking to do is find a game that is competitive for all the teams involved."

The possibility of a forfeit again hangs over the North Jersey football season. But inner-city Eastside and non-public powerhouse Don Bosco are not involved.

This time it's two suburban, public schools separated by 15 miles. Two schools in the same North 1, Group 2 section. Two schools that are just 99 students apart, based on enrollment figures provided by the NJSIAA, with Mahwah the larger.

Oppido and Mahwah athletic director Roger Pelletier began discussions about dropping the game when the North Jersey Super Football Conference was created and approved. Pascack Hills also asked Mahwah to find a different opponent-- a request the school also declined (the Mahwah-Pascack Hills game will go on as scheduled).

Dumont and Mahwah are in the five-team American Gold division of the NJSFC. The process is designed to work this way: By mutual agreement, Dumont would absorb what is being called a paper loss in order to maintain the integrity of the divisional standings. Mahwah would get a paper win.

But since no game would be played, they could find separate, suitable opponents to play in Week 3 and count the results toward power points. Although not codified by NJSFC rules, the onus falls more on the team looking to opt out to find the opponents - meaning Dumont would have to find a team for Mahwah to play.

Many schools have not released their final NJSFC schedules because such wheeling and dealing is going on. Pascack Valley is looking for a game to replace Cliffside Park, for example. Many of the North Jersey non-public schools haven't finalized their schedules either, because they still are negotiating with fellow conference members to find alternate games and dates.

Pelletier said he was not shocked to hear from Pascack Hills and Dumont, but is steadfast in his reasoning for not letting either school out of its game.

"This comes down to two to three concepts that I can't get past," Pelletier said. "I have a very tough schedule. I have at least seven games that are toss-ups, and both of these two opponents are sectional opponents. And they could be vying for a playoff spot against us next year.

"It's going to be hard to find someone for us to play who is anything else but a likely loss for us. You know how power points are, and playoff spots can be tight unless you're 7-0 or 6-1.

"It's not a safety issue. …

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