Old Town High School football coach Peter Kenny has been relieved of his duties for using two ineligible players in a recent game.
Kenny, in his first season as the Coyotes’ head coach, said he was informed Tuesday by Old Town principal Joe Gallant that he had been fired.
“I think I got a bad deal,” a candid Kenny said Tuesday night. “I bent the rule; I don’t feel like I broke it.”
Gallant, citing it as a personnel issue, declined to comment on specifics of the situation. He did confirm he met with the football team Tuesday to inform them Kenny had been removed and that assistant coach Todd Ellis had been named the interim head coach.
Gallant said Kenny had been temporarily relieved of his coaching duties Oct. 5, pending the administration’s review of the situation.
Ellis had coached the Coyotes (0-6) during Friday night’s loss at Brewer. Kenny watched from the bleachers.
Kenny, who plans to appeal the decision to the school board, said he spoke Tuesday with Old Town superintendent David Walker and hopes to get the matter placed on the agenda for the board’s Oct. 17 meeting.
“I talked to David Walker, who was very cooperative,” Kenny said. “He told me that he’d heard great things about what we’ve been doing.”
Kenny, who is a local drywall contractor, believes he has the support of Old Town players and parents.
Walker could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Old Town High has a no-fail policy, which means students who want to play sports must achieve a passing grade in all of their classes during the ranking period prior to participation in their sports season.
With his team struggling and his roster thinned by attrition and injuries to 15 healthy players, Kenny said he suited up two players who were academically ineligible and let them play in the Sept. 15 game at Winslow.
“I made a choice that I felt was right,” Kenny said. “I played a couple kids in a game that we lost 70-6.”
Kenny said the no-fail policy is too strict and penalizes many students who could benefit greatly from the experience of playing football or other sports.
Among the players on his roster in August, 14 came into the fall season having failed one class during the fourth quarter of 2005-06 and were thus ineligible until progress reports were issued Oct. 2 – five games into the football season.
“I’ve got kids dropping off [the team]. It’s killing the kids,” said Kenny, who started the year with 16 academically ineligible students and had many of them quit because they could practice but weren’t allowed to play in games.
“Telling a kid that they’ve got to be perfect and pass every class is wrong,” said Kenny, who had instituted mandatory weekly grade sheets and study halls to help team members keep up with their schoolwork. “For some of these kids, [football] is something to hold on to.”
Kenny, a former standout quarterback at Bucksport High, has agonized watching how the situation has affected Old Town team members.
“These kids are phenomenal,” Kenny said. “This is not what the kids needed. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.”