URSULINE FOOTBALL Irish awaiting word on OHSAA decision

If Ursuline has to forfeit four games they still might get to the playoffs with two more wins.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Patricia Fleming wanted to talk, and the Ursuline High football team was ready to listen.
With a flurry of varying facts and rumors circulating throughout the Mahoning Valley, Fleming, the Ursuline High principal, wanted to be direct and honest with her student-athletes.
That's why she spent 45 minutes earlier this week explaining to them why the team may have to forfeit four games this season.
"I really felt that they are being penalized for the mistake that was made at another level," Fleming said Thursday, "and I really felt it was important that I share with them what had happened."
After an internal investigation, Ursuline discovered that the football team had used an academically ineligible player in victories over Alliance on Sept. 7 and Cardinal Mooney on Sept. 29.
"As the principal of the school, I take responsibility for everything that happens here," Fleming said. "It was an honest misreading of a grade report."
Reviewed films: Unsettled after hearing talks of additional violations, Ursuline reviewed film for a second time of its game Sept. 21 against Cleveland Benedictine. Its finding revealed the ineligible student-athlete participated in one play against the Bengals, Fleming said.
"When we looked again, we found him in one play that was simply missed the first time around," she said, adding the game was played in poor weather conditions.
Ursuline followed that with a review of its game against Wilson. The same student-athlete, a sophomore reserve, was discovered participating in at least one series.
"We did not check that game [initially] because we were under the impression he did not dress at all," said Fleming, referring to the student-athlete being out for health reasons.
"But there were too many people saying four games," she added. "That's when we sat down and looked at the Wilson game."
Letters that had been sent to Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Clair Muscaro and the schools involved had to be amended to include the new findings, Fleming said.
Muscaro also requested a copy of the student-athlete's grade report, Fleming said. Ursuline is now waiting for a response from the OHSAA.
Team upbeat: Fleming recalled the team remaining upbeat during their meeting. It continues to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
"Their response was, 'We're going to play our last two games and we're going to win and we're going to hopefully pull out enough points to make it to the playoffs,' " Fleming said.
Ursuline, which has a 7-1 record, finishes the regular season tonight against Boardman and next week against Uniontown, Pa.
If the Irish are forced to forfeit four games, they would still have a slim possibility of qualifying for the postseason -- but only with wins in the final two weeks.
"I will be on my knees these last two games praying for our success," Fleming said.