Celebrating school spirit, this isn't.
It's been a week since it happened, but news of this sordid tale of teenage immaturity only crossed my desk today, a testimony to the hometown paper confining it to its website, leaving a lot of Troy High School alumni, such as ye scribe, in the dark about a prank gone horribly wrong.
According to the account reprinted below from the Albany Times-Union, Troy High cheerleaders and football players have engaged in a tradition of pranking each other, lining homes with toilet paper and eggs. I have no record of any of this sort of lame behavior happening when I was a student at THS (1979-81). Then again, back in those days, Homecoming was at the start of basketball season, and didn't get moved up to football season until after I graduated. It only gets mentioned now because of the damage it caused last week at and around Carroll Hill School, which, oh by the way, is also part of the Enlarged City School District of Troy.
Following is reporter Pete Iorizzo's account:
An annual Troy High homecoming tradition that includes a "war" between football players and cheerleaders has resulted in more than 30 students being disciplined.
Eleven players and 22 cheerleaders have been suspended for Friday night's game because of their participation in a ruckus last week near Carroll Hill School, a member of the football team said Wednesday. Quarterback Zack Johnson, a junior, said Thursday night's teenage high jinks did no damage to school property.
But police said damage included eggs and garbage thrown at the school and grass torn up by a car driving on the lawn.
Capt. Dan DeWolf said no students were charged because the school declined to press charges, but that "it was enough (damage) that you could get arrested."
The homecoming incident was part of the annual celebration, which traditionally includes football players toilet-papering the homes of cheerleaders and vice versa before the two sides gather for a "war," or mock fight with shaving cream and eggs.
Most of the students received one-game suspensions and Saturday detention, parents of football players said.
Two players, Elijah and Isaiah Thomas, both seniors, were kicked off the team after they approached Troy High coach Mike Hurteau about their discipline, said their mother, Martha Thomas, who disputed the assertion that any damage was done to the school.
"This is crazy," said Thomas. "Our kids committed no crimes. No one was hurt. Nothing was vandalized. The football players offered to go out there and clean up. But there was nothing there."
Johnson, the quarterback, said he was unfairly given a two-game suspension for driving on the grass. He said he rode on the lawn to move his car, which had been parked behind Carroll Hill School, onto the street.
"I drove it over the grass to move it on the street," he said. "That's it."
His mother, Michelle Ninstant, said she supported disciplining her son, but only in the same way as all the other students.
"What's fair is fair," she said. "All he did was drive his car across the grass."
She said she visited the scene Saturday and saw no damage.
Several calls to Troy High Principal Joseph Mariano Jr. weren't returned Wednesday.
Neither Hurteau, the coach, nor Athletic Director Paul Reinisch responded to messages left since Monday, when a reporter first called about the suspensions handed down that day.
The players already had been allowed to play in this past Friday night's homecoming game, a 21-18 Class A Southeast victory over Mohonasen.
Troy (2-2, 2-0) plays Bishop Maginn (4-0, 2-0) on the road Friday in the Southeast Division.
Ninstant, other parents and players showed up at a school board meeting Wednesday night to protest what they considered to be harsh discipline. Johnson read a letter to the board asking it reconsider his suspension.
"I don't know why I have been singled out to be the only receiving more consequences than other students that was there that evening," Johnson said. "I would like the school board to reconsider my additional consequences and treat me equally and fairly as to receive only the same consequences everyone else that evening received."
Martha Thomas spoke before the board and stated this particular prank is widely known throughout the community and school.
"This has been going on for years," Thomas said. "If this was a problem, why didn't someone tell them not to do this?"
Isaiah Thomas also spoke and stated he could not understand why he and his brother were both thrown off the team.
At the conclusion of the period allotted for parents and students to speak, Troy superintendent John Carmello said if anyone wants to discuss the punishments further, they need to set up appointments with Mariano and Reinisch.
Carmello also added, "Some of the statements are inaccurate."
By today's editions, the numbers had dropped to 11 cheerleaders, about half the squad, based on what I'd seen when I attended a game a couple of years ago, and 9 football players. Still, these kids should've realized that what might've been a harmless prank back in the day is now verboten in today's hyper-sensitive society. That being said, and it saddens me to do this, as a THS alumnus, to distribute some Dunce Caps to these kids. At worst, for fans of the football team, their chances of advancing to the post-season later this month just took a big hit.