Montclair 2022 football. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

The Montclair High School football team’s 2023 season opening kickoff is less than two weeks away, and according to the district, last season’s issues have been resolved.

The Mounties 2022 season came to an abrupt halt when the school district reported to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association that it had played with an academically ineligible student during the 2022 season.

The football team had to forfeit its four victories and more importantly take itself out of the North 1 Group 5 playoffs.

Last year the Montclair board of education announced it would hold an investigation into the cause of the infractions.

As the months went along, the school district was mum about the results of the investigation until this week.

“The matter was investigated and resolved internally,” said David Cantor, the district’s executive director of communications and community engagement. “We’re looking ahead now to a promising fall season.”

Cantor and the rest of the Montclair school officials did not elaborate on what was the result of the investigation.

But according to Cantor, the school district is doubling down on making sure ineligible players do not participate in any sport.

“We have closely reviewed the records of each of our student-athletes to determine eligibility for the football team and for our other teams,” said Cantor.

The Montclair football team in 2022 celebrates after defeating Ridgewood during the regular season that clinched a state playoff bid. The Mounties though two weeks later found out that they were ineligible for the playoffs since an academically ineligible student played during the season. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
The Montclair football team in 2022 celebrates after defeating Ridgewood during the regular season that clinched a state playoff bid. The Mounties though two weeks later found out that they were ineligible for the playoffs since an academically ineligible student played during the season. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Montclair head coach Jermain Johnson said before the school district released the statement that they were getting ready for the 2024 season that starts on August 26 at Clifton at Overpeck Park at 7 pm.

“As far as I know the investigation is still ongoing,” said Montclair High School football head coach Johnson before the announcement. “Nobody has reached out to me. As far as the coaching staff, we’ve moved on.”

At the time of the forfeit last year, Montclair schools superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds wrote about what possibly occurred in an illegal student athlete seeing the field last season.

“A report is generated by the athletic director before the season for each of our sports teams that lists ineligible players, and we are actively investigating why the oversight occurred,” Ponds wrote last year.

Ponds also said the district would do “a better job” of making sure every child who is in academic stress is taken care of and monitored. That monitoring will be done by the district’s athletic director but also other individuals in the district, he said.

The district learned about the issue from former Montclair High School football coach John Fiore, who is currently head coach at Elizabeth High School, on the eve of the first round North 2 Group 5 opening playoff game at Ridgewood last October. Fiore immediately contacted Johnson about allegations of an academically ineligible student.

The school district then reported the infraction to the NJSIAA with the result ending in the forfeiture of the four victories last season as well as the state playoff game.

Despite being the seventh seed in the state section, the Mounties had defeated Ridgewood, 17-10, just two weeks before that at Ridgewood.

There was an attempt for Montclair to play another game after reporting the infraction for the 2022 Mounties seniors, but those attempts failed.

— Edward Kensik/Montclair Local

Edward Kensick writes sports, news and features for Montclair Local.

5 replies on “Montclair Quietly Resolves Football Infractions”

  1. Speaking about the sway our high school athletic program has over this town….

    The Montclair Public School District (that now reports directly in to the parents) will soon be telling us they will be cutting down old growth trees along Woodman’s baseball fields and Champlain Terr & Essex Ave to expand for a state-of-the-art baseball facility. The trees need to go because they degrade student safety!

    Maybe to also give students a safe place to hold their Climate Strikes? Or just maybe because we are behind in the athletic facility arms race in NJ and want a showpiece facility?

    Maybe we could host an Earth Day doubleheader with a Climate Strike by day followed by an evening baseball game under new stadium lighting. All encapsulated in a very good, a very synthetic, a very antiseptic institutional design.

    The residents on Champlain & Essex had to know these days would come. Removing an old growth stand of trees made sense because of their steadily decreasing value to the community at-large. Not too long ago we felt different. Theses trees provided the colorful and crunchy entrance to Autumn’s Saturday celebration of MHS football games. They provided shady relief from a strong sun. They had value small towns tend to appreciate & not take for granted. Sorry, I’m getting sentimental over a bunch of trees.

    I understand we have to replace these natural features & “upgrade” in the name of higher utilization. It is just poor timing and bad optics to take down these old growth trees when we have lost sight of our priorities. Like the integrity of the MHS football program. Like before the ink is dry on our new leaf blower ordinance. And, like this project is prioritized years ahead of the urgently demanded school building HVAC & classrooms improvements.

    But, it does make for great entertainment!

  2. Frank,
    Solving the leaf blower ban one old growth tree at a time. Do you think the town workers want to use rakes? Think again.

  3. I hesitate to preempt our Township Attorney’s uncertainty and need for further research, but County is exempt and Township is voluntary compliance based on Council policy.

    You would think all this amazing collaboration of talent sourced from a multitude of disciplines and walks of life would have nailed this simple stuff down. This is the problem with every other weekend Marxist sympathizers.
    After he is finished Wednesday night, Chris Christie is taking a long weekend at (not down the) shore and coming to the People’s Republic of Montclair to give us a lecture…which maybe technically be from Little Falls or Clifton.

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