(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 8, 2017)
Ferndale, MI – After getting support from the community to go to National Championships in Orlando, Florida, the Ferndale Eagles Youth Association Pop Warner football team was disqualified after a review of registrations for the players.
In the Unlimited Division – meaning without weight restrictions – the Ferndale team was scheduled to take on the team from Ocoee, Florida on Friday at 3:15 pm for the title of National Champion. The game did not take place.
Parents complained that youth on the Ferndale team were too old to be playing in the league, and that at least one youth also played on a high school football team.
The Pop Warner organization issued a statement explaining “The Ferndale Eagles unlimited team was removed from the Pop Warner Super Bowl championship game for player registration violations. It was alleged that the Eagles used falsified registration information for several players. Following a review of the matter we disqualified the Eagles.”
Coach James Lewis said the issue was not age. “Yes we were disqualified for playing a kid. He was NOT too old, he was a dual play kid, and not too old. That was proven with information provided by his parent. Honestly I didn’t understand the dual play rules and played him one week too late. All of our age documents were checked by Pop Warner at the State, Regional and National level. I simply did not have enough time to go with the appeal process.”
The Unlimited Division has no weight restrictions, and is limited to youth ages -11-14.
There has not been any decision made on if Ferndale will be allowed to remain in the Pop Warner program.
This is the first year for the Ferndale team. Lewis started the team this year after working with a team in Oak Park. A previous interview described the program and the benefits to the players.
A media spokesperson for Pop Warner said that “The focus right now is the Super Bowl,” and they will let Oakland County Times know if there are any developments.
As far as the other teams impacted by the disqualification, Pop Warner’s statement said “While we would have welcomed the opportunity to have Bergen County, Ferndale’s semifinal opponent, play Ocoee for the title game Bergen County had returned home. As a result, Ocoee and Bergen County share the title of 2017 Pop Warner Super Bowl ‘Unlimited’ co-champions.” Bergen County is in New Jersey.
The youth association is an independent nonprofit managed by Lewis, and is not affiliated with the Ferndale Public Schools. It was a program for youth designed to teach them football and prepare them for middle and high school competition.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available. Note: This article was updated to include clarification to the age issue and the term “dual play.”