Update, 2:53 p.m. Mill River’s protest over a controversial call in Saturday’s Division III championship game was denied by the Vermont Principals Association, but the decision will be appealed, according to Mill River Union High School Principal Andy Pomeroy.
By Tony Marquis, Standard Staff
A protest has been filed with the Vermont Principal’s Association over the result of Saturday’s Division III championship game.
Mill River coach Art Peterson called VPA director Bob Johnson Sunday morning to object to a call made by officials during overtime of Woodstock’s 20-19 win against the Minutemen.
On third-and-goal in overtime, Woodstock running back Tom Baumann appeared to have fumbled the ball as he dove toward the end zone. The line judge called Baumann down at the 1-yard line. Peterson contends Baumann’s fumble went through the end zone and out-of-bounds, which would have ended the game and given the Minutemen the title. (See the play here.)
Johnson contacted the officials working the game, who will meet sometime today to discuss the call. A decision could come late Monday or early Tuesday, according to Johnson.
Mill River Union High School Principal Andy Pomeroy also sent an email protest to Johnson.
“I don’t know what we want. I appreciate the fact human judgment is part of the game,” Pomeroy said. “We’re not trying to take anything away from Woodstock…but we do want some process and we want someone else to take a look at this.”
Pomeroy, who went to the game, said he’s watched video of the play more than once online. The National Federation of State High School Associations broadcasted the game from its website Saturday. The game is available for replay. After watching the video, Pomeroy said there’s no question the ball went through the end zone.
“Clearly the ref made a mistake, that’s gonna happen from time to time,” Pomeroy said. “When you make a mistake, it happens, you own it and you try to do what you can to make it right.”
Johnson, who has worked for VPA for 11 years, says he doesn’t remember a protest in a championship game.
Peterson didn’t see the play or the fumble, he said. His view was obstructed by his players on the sidelines. But assistant coach Tucker Peterson, who was further down the sidelines, saw the play, according to Pomeroy, and tried to argue the call with officials.
“(Tucker) asked the ref who made the call, why he made that call,” Pomeroy said. “It was requested of him to return to his sideline.”
It wasn’t until Peterson talked with other coaches and fans at the game that he realized the call may have been wrong. It “might have had a better effect” to protest the call immediately, Peterson said.
Peterson met with Pomeroy later on Saturday to watch the team’s video, shot from the press box. They also watched clips from local television stations and looked at pictures shot by fans and photographers at the game. He says that video “clearly shows what happened,” and he hopes to have the call reversed.
Woodstock coach Ramsey Worrell hasn’t watched the video of the game yet, he said, but he knows about the protest.
“I’ve heard about it, it’s all over the media,” Worrell said. “I’m still riding the high from winning the game — I’m proud of our kids and the way we played.”
Worrell says he’ll probably watch the game soon and check out the play in question. He isn’t sure how he would react if the call is reversed.
“We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there,” Worrell said.
According to VPA rules, video cannot be used to overrule a call.
“If that’s the rule, it’s the rule,” Peterson said. “We’re coming in this with our eyes open, we understand it’s kind of a long shot.”Nikolai Davis kicks the game-winning extra point in the Division III Championship game against Mill River. (Rick Russell Photo)