ESPN was willing to televise a football game between Bay Port and Ashwaubenon High Schools but circumstances around new WIAA rules will prevent the nationally televised game, as first reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette.
Paragon Marketing Group identified the two schools, propelled by Division 1 quarterbacks James Morgan (Ashwaubenon/Bowling Green) and Alec Ingold (Bay Port/Northern Illinois) as a marquee match up. Paragon and ESPN offered to televise the game provided it was played on a Sunday, sources told NBC26.
Both Jaguars and Pirates coaching staffs worked with other area programs to move their week 7 date to the opening week of the season on Sunday, August 24th. Once the proposal was brought to the WIAA, it was denied for violating rules in the interest of player safety. WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki told NBC26 schools cannot play more than one game in a week stretching from Sunday to Saturday.
"It was not going to be a situation we can justify, going against our rules," said Labecki. "If something happened that would be a serious or catastrophic injury it would be very hard to defend that."
Labecki says the WIAA was not aware of the game until June when the two schools approached the governing body for approval.
"We tried everything we could," said Labecki.
Bay Port's Gary Westerman disputes that claim.
"Certainly there is a level of frustration. I understand rules are in place. There has to be, but in the end [I'm] just disappointed for our kids and Ashwaubenon's. It just would have been something our kids would have remembered for a long time."
Jaguars' head coach Mark Jonas agrees.
"I don't know how often we'll have two D1 quarterbacks playing against each other in the same conference again. The kids were disappointed, we were disappointed, but again it goes back to player safety."
An appeal from the schools would have gone back to the WIAA and not heard until July. Past the time when schedules have to be set.
ESPN, in a statement to NBC26 says the WIAA's ruling will not influence future relationships with Wisconsin schools.