When is a forfeit not a forfeit? How about when the team allegedly giving up the forfeit, didn't?
This goes back to East Juniata's scheduled Sept. 28 football game against Carson Long. A fellow sports editor giving me an update on District 4 football standings informed me that the Tigers got a forfeit for that one, which would mean 60 more points toward a potential third straight appearance in the district tournament.
Not so fast, Carson Long's athletic director says: The game is cancelled, but not forfeited. And I can't blame him - it isn't his school's fault the game wasn't played.
If anyone should be getting a free one out of this, it's the Warriors.
Keep in mind the circumstances that led up to the cancellation of the East Juniata-Carson Long game:
* Because of a decision to try and move East Juniata from the All American Football Conference to the Twin Valley Conference - without getting the school board's approval, which never came - the game could not be scheduled on a Friday or Saturday, the traditional days for football.
* A decision by Juniata's superintendent - one in the name of safety, but his decision (one not mandated by PIAA or other rules) nonetheless - forced the cancellation of the game, which was to be hosted by East Juniata.
History tells us that East Juniata likely would have won the game, had it been played. The Warriors have coughed up 383 points while scoring just 27 in seven games this season, five of those shutouts. But, as the old saying goes, that's why they play the games. It was no fault of Carson Long's that this one was not played, so why shouldn't the New Bloomfield academy be given a win - instead of giving one - in this case?
Forfeit or no, East Juniata is unlikely to make the District 4 Class AAA field. With Shamokin back into the big class for two years, the district bracket looks to include the Indians, defending state champion Selinsgrove, Shikellamy and the AAFC's Columbia-Montour Vo-tech, which has a sizeable points advantage on the Tigers.
Juniata continues to have at least a statistical possibility of making the District 6 Class AA bracket despite its woes on the field - proof that the move out of District 3 offers greater opportunity for the Big Red when it comes to the postseason. In District 3, Juniata's playoff hopes would have been out the window before the season was half over.
Actually, Mount Union and Lewistown technically remain in the range of mathematical possibility in Class AA, a sign of how competitive the standings are in that class. But I wouldn't expect to see either of them play after Nov. 5.
Indian Valley, after a setback against Bellefonte Friday, will have to work harder for one of the two District 6 Class AAA spots. The Warriors could have eliminated the Centre County team from contention had they won Friday. Instead, the Red Raiders are now in second, although the schedule tends to favor Indian Valley's chances of taking the spot back before it's over.
Johnstown is the third team vying for the championship game; the winner heads to a subregional game against District 9's champ, likely Clearfield - one of only two losses for Indian Valley thus far.
Outside of football, look for a strong contingent in the region to be playing toward November.
Lewistown is guaranteed an appearance in the district volleyball event, which should cement this year's group as one of coach Jim Fosselman's best (perhaps the best of his tenure). Mount Union has cinched a spot in the field as well.
Field hockey teams from Indian Valley, East Juniata, Greenwood and possibly Midd-West are tournament bound.
Boys and girls soccer teams from Lewistown, Juniata, East Juniata and Midd-West are in, along with the Greenwood and Belleville Mennonite School boys (neither school has a girls team).
District tournaments (non-football) begin next week. States go two more weeks, wrapping up before Thanksgiving. The football postseason starts Nov. 13.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.