A group of parents from Heidelberg High School will meet Friday with Nancy Bresell, director of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe, to discuss a ruling that resulted in the school’s football team forfeiting a victory that cost the Lions a perfect regular season.

The private meeting with parents will be a chance for Bresell to collect more information and hear other sides of the argument, according to Harvey Gerry, chief of staff for DODDS-Europe.

“This also will ensure everyone has input,” he said.

The parents were upset by a ruling announced last Friday by Karen Seadore, athletic director for DODDS-Europe, that implemented a recommendation by the game’s referee that Heidelberg forfeit the game for unsportsmanlike play at the end of its 54-19 victory against Wiesbaden on Oct. 9. According to Seadore, the official said the “Lions failed to put their team on the field after being directed to do so by the referee” and that the penalty associated with the infraction is forfeiture of the game.

Heidelberg principal KJ Brewer filed an appeal Tuesday asking the school system to change its decision.

Parents contacted DODDS asking to meet with Bresell. Gerry said he did not know how many parents would be attending or how they were selected, but said Bresell wanted to hear what they had to say. He said the district would make a decision on what action to take after the meeting and was hoping for a quick resolution.

Upset parents and spectators maintain that the players are being punished for faulty end-of-game decision-making by referees. According to some Heidelberg parents, the decision to not return to the field was the result of end-of-game confusion rather than intentional unsportsmanlike behavior. Parents say a backfield judge keeping the game time blew the whistle four times to indicate that the game had ended.

“Heidelberg thought the game was over,” said Jeanne McBride, the parent of a Heidelberg player.

And while the referee stated that the coaching staff “totally ignored” his request to have the players return to the field, McBride said she never saw the referee approach Heidelberg coach Brad Shahan for a sideline discussion.

On Wednesday, Shahan referred questions about the decision and whether he ignored the referee’s order to Brewer, saying that the principal had his statement. Brewer did not respond to calls asking for comment.

The game was the third forfeited by a DODDS team this year. Mannheim forfeited a season-opening win and Alconbury forfeited an overtime victory, both for using an ineligible player. Heidelberg, Mannheim and Alconbury are all playing home games in their respective division playoffs Saturday.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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