After making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years in 2009, Centereach is attempting to make it two years straight this year. The team stands at 4-6 (teams have to be .500 to make the playoffs) after a win over West Islip today. However, Centereach would be 5-5 right now if not for a scheduling problem that ran up against a brick wall of rules.

The team was originally scheduled to take on Bellport Wednesday; however, five Centereach members were receiving confirmation that day. The game was moved to Monday, leaving Wednesday blank. On Tuesday, Centereach drove to Riverhead for a game, but when they arrived the field was empty and they were told to wait on the bus due to a bomb threat at the school.

“We’re sitting on the bus and half hour later, they come over and say the game was cancelled,” coach Sal Santoro said.

The coaches talked before departing, and both had the impression the game would be rescheduled for Thursday, Santoro said.

On Wednesday, Santoro, who was at the hospital with a family emergency, got a call from his A.D.: the Riverhead rescheduled game was happening that day.

Centereach was left with two choices: (1) forfeit or (2) play the game supplemented by members of the JV squad. Centereach only has a 12-player team and couldn’t afford the loss of the five players making their confirmation. To make matters worse, many of the players, not expecting to play until Thursday or Friday, had left their uniforms and gear at home. Centereach had to forfeit.

“They’re (Section XI) sticking to the next available day policy, but what I’m saying is that that day’s not available,” Santoro said. “The rule is in place so that teams can’t dodge each other. But in this case it’s not counted against them in school for their absence, so why should it be for the game?”

Centereach A.D. Dennis Maloney said that while this case is regrettable, the rule is the rule.

“The rule clearly states that if a game is postponed or rained out, a varsity team must play on the next available date, and that is a clear rule,” he said. “It not only impacts the Middle Country School District, it impacts all of the schools. Even though I may not agree with the rule because of our extenuating circumstances, it’s a rule that we have to follow.”

“I’m in the process of writing the section a letter about modifying this rule for the future so that it wont impact other schools. But for now this is an unappealable rule. It’s the rule that’s on the books, everyone in their section must follow, and I feel as bad as players and coaches in our district, but right now these are the rules that we work under.”

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months