MSJ forfeits football game to Patriots
By CHUCK CLARINO Staff Writer | October 03,2009
There will be no football game at St. Peter's Field today; Mount St. Joseph Academy has forfeited its scheduled game with Mount Anthony, the school announced Friday.
The game was forfeited for what MSJ Principal Paolo E. Zancanaro called "a violation of Christian principles" by team members. The forfeit was among the restrictions Zancanaro issued for the entire football team in response to an incident that apparently transpired during the week.
It was the first time in MSJ's football history, dating back to 1930, that the Mounties have forfeited a game.
"What they did did not sit well with fundamental Christian principles. I didn't like certain attitudes that were being expressed by the players," said Zancanaro.
Zancanaro explained that the entire team will do a community service project and will issue an apology "to the entire MSJ community."
Today's game will go down as a forfeit loss for MSJ and a forfeit win for Mount Anthony, according to South Burlington Athletic Director Mike O'Day. O'Day is the official scheduler for the Vermont Interscholastic Football League, of which MSJ and Mount Anthony are members.
"From what I understand it is just tomorrow," said O'Day, addressing the rumor that MSJ might cancel the remainder of its season.
"MSJ is supposed to get back to (Vermont Principals Association Director of Student Activities) Bob Johnson Monday, but as best as I know this is only for one week. It will go as a forfeit win and a forfeit loss."
The VPA governs all interscholastic activities in Vermont.
The Mounties have a 0-5 record this year and outside of their first game, have been beaten handily every week.
Last week in a 34-0 loss at Brattleboro, MSJ quarterback/running back Leighton Thayer did not finish the game due to an injury. He is due to be reevaluated on Tuesday.
MSJ started the season with 23 players but has dressed around 20 for most games, half of which are freshmen.
Thayer's injury would have prevented him from participating had today's game been played.
Zancanaro was asked whether injuries and dwindling numbers of participants might jeopardize the remainder of the season.
"That is not the issue here," Zancanaro said. "I think it's always difficult when you don't have a very deep team and that's something that will be addressed as we go along. The guys have played as nobly as they could. They will be back at practice Monday and will prepare for next Saturday's game against Rice."
MSJ has been one of the most storied football programs in Vermont history.
The Mounties have been like the little engine that could, bucking the odds by winning titles against much larger schools.
MSJ has racked up 16 titles, with their last coming in 2005 under John Callahan.
But declining enrollment has hurt MSJ. Callahan resigned in 2006 and the coaching reins were turned over to assistant Chip Forte, who has been hampered during his time by a short roster.
Two years ago, the entire program was comprised of 20 players and they suffered through a winless season in Division I, the state's top echelon that includes its largest schools. There is no junior varsity or freshman team at MSJ – every player in the program is on the varsity.
Last fall, the numbers went up to 22 players and MSJ won games at Burlington and Colchester. And there was hope this year when 23 players turned out.
Also, MSJ had a window to move down out Division I into Division II or III before the 2009 season but the powers that be at the Convent Avenue School declined the option.
Recently, National Public Radio's Joe Pascal did a story on MSJ, the smallest school in the state with 52 boys, playing in the state's top division. Coaches and players were quoted in that story saying that it was their choice to play in Division I and that was the reason why they were at the school.