WEST NEWBURY — Members of the Pentucket Youth Football board of directors admit they falsified addresses for players from Haverhill, resulting in the Cape Ann Youth Football League banning the program’s teams from postseason play.
In an email sent to parents Thursday by the board of directors, the board acknowledged it falsified addresses for a number of Haverhill players, saying it did so to give them an opportunity to play youth football they otherwise would not receive.
Haverhill does not have its own youth football program; while players from the city can and have played for Pentucket without incident, CAYFL rules limit the number of out-of-town players who can play for each member program.
“Yes, we made a mistake, but in all honesty, we would do it again if faced with the same circumstances,” the board of directors wrote in its letter to parents. “We will not turn away someone who wants to play a sport.”
PYF violated the league’s “10% rule,” which stipulates that member programs’ teams can’t consist of 10% or more players from neighboring communities. The rule exists to prevent coaches from loading up on out-of-town players to form super teams while providing flexibility for a small number to play for a neighboring community’s program under certain conditions.
The board said that it had 65 players from West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland and Georgetown enrolled in its program and 35 from Haverhill, including 15 who had played for PYF before and were grandfathered in. It’s unclear how many Haverhill players’ addresses were falsified or if their parents were aware.
In its letter to parents, the PYF board rejected the notion that it was actively recruiting players from Haverhill and suggested the only reason the CAYFL board and other league members were interested in their contingent of Haverhill players was because of Pentucket’s improvement on the field.
The PYF board went on to write that it acted the way it did to give as many players the opportunity to play youth football as possible, particularly in light of recent legislative efforts to ban youth tackle football for players in seventh grade and under.
“We knew we had more than the 10% of kids allotted, but how, as a Parent, Coach, BOD, human being do you turn away kids from playing a sport that they want to play,” the PYF board of directors wrote. “A sport that in our opinion teaches you about so many things other than football, about how to be a good sport, a good teammate, a good person. How to accept adversity and persevere, about how to understand failure, but to also rise from it.
“We as a BOD could not do that, so we made the decision to falsify some of the addresses of these boys so they could play with us,” the letter continued. “We understood what we were doing and that it was wrong to some extent, but we honestly felt the end justified the means. Now not everyone will agree, but until you are put in that situation, which was done by the CAYFL BOD, by the way, we hope you can at least understand where we were coming from.”
The letter ends with a request that parents contact the members of the CAYFL board to express their displeasure and ask them to reconsider the decision.
A meeting was scheduled for Monday night for parents, PYF and league officials to discuss the situation, according to PYF Commissioner Michael Zimirowski. He declined to comment on the letter or the postseason ban until after that meeting and he did not respond to a voicemail afterward as of press time.
An email seeking comment from CAYFL Commissioner Brian Hubbard was not returned.
PYF officials are preparing a plan to present to CAYFL officials at a meeting Wednesday, according to parents at the meeting Monday.
The league’s regular season is scheduled to conclude in two weeks.