Bennett football loses appeal, eliminated after COVID pause

High School Sports

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – The game clock has run out for Bennett High School’s football season. Section VI unanimously upheld its decision Monday to allow Lancaster football to advance in the Class AA playoffs after Bennett was forced to go on pause due to COVID-19 protocols.

“We feel terrible for all the senior student athletes, all student athletes and their coaches for the opportunity they missed out on,” said district athletic director Mike House. “They qualified for a semi-final place and we were hoping that today Section VI would reconsider and allow us to schedule the game.”

Bennett had appealed the decision and asked for the game to be rescheduled to Tuesday, after its pause ends.

“We feel that the players should be able to settle this, and play the game and compete like they want to do out on the field,” said Nathaniel Kuzma, who’s the general counsel for the Buffalo Public School District.

District officials tell News 4 they are looking into what their next options are for fighting this decision. They are also working on ways to add more representation from Buffalo Public Schools on the Section VI board.

“Executive Director Mark DiFilippo reminded schools of the policy as recently as April 30 in his Monthly Report,” Section VI said in a statement. “In the report it states, ‘If a team goes on Pause during Sectionals, their opponent will advance. Games WILL NOT be delayed.’ The Section has consistently applied this practice for multiple seasons.”

Lancaster, seeded first in the four-team bracket, will host #2 Orchard Park at 7 p.m. Friday for the Class AA title.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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