Natick defeated Plymouth South 38-33 in the Eastern Massachusetts Division 2A semifinal on Tuesday, but all people could talk about was the game ball used.
With four minutes remaining and Natick leading the way, Scott Fry, Plymouth South coach, alerted the officials that Natick was using a Wilson GP ball instead of the MIAA-mandated Spaulding J5V ball. The Redhawks were penalized and forced to punt.
“One of m players came over to the sidelines and asked me why can’t we use the balls we normally use like Natick was doing…We have pictures of them using the ball throughout the entire game. I was livid when they told me all they could do was penalize Natick from the point that they were made aware of it,” says Fry.
Tim Collins, Natick athletic director, released a comment on Wednesday:
“The MIAA has confirmed that the Natick High School Football Team had their footballs cleared for play last evening during their MIAA Playoff victory v. Plymouth South. The MIAA’s assigned crew of game officials, as is the custom at the beginning of every high school football game, checked every ball authorized for use during the contest,” says Collins.
Natick weren’t intentionally looking to fool the game officials in an effort to gain an advantage, as was the case last month when a USC equipment manage slightly deflated the balls used in the Trojans’ loss to Oregon.
Although Natick relies heavily on the passing game, Tuesday’s game was played in the snow and the leather laces on the Wilson GP supposedly make it easier to grip, one can understand why Fry was angry.
“I feel bad because it sounds like sour grapes on our end and both teams played a great game…For us, the ball really doesn’t matter because we run. But for a team that like to throw the ball, it makes a big difference,” says Fry.