It was supposed to be the weekend when we would find out the identity of the three best high school football teams in the Mountain State.
Two of the three state champions were crowned as No. 2 Magnolia upended No. 1 Ravenswood, 28-13, in Class AA, while No. 6 Wheeling Central returned to the top of the Class A division with a 28-14 win over No. 1 Wahama in games played at Wheeling Island Stadium.
However, West Virginia's largest classification-Class AAA-doesn't yet have a winner or even a date for its championship game.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, the state's overseer when it comes to high school athletics, finds itself once again embroiled in a legal battle after a game-ending brawl between defending state champion South Charleston and quarterfinal opponent Hurricane.
So bad was the incident that the officiating crew refused to play the final seconds of the Black Eagles come-from-behind victory and ended up ejecting multiple players from both squads.
That was just the beginning, however, to this tale as parents of four South Charleston players-informed their sons would not be eligible to play in SC's semifinal contest with 2009 runner-up Brooke-elected to take their grievances to court.
Kanawha County judge Carrie Webster sided with the SC quartet and rewarded them with an injunction that permitted them to participate in the Black Eagles' 29-28 win over Brooke a victory that sent the two-time defending champs back to Wheeling Island Stadium.
That decision also left WVSSAC executive director Gary Ray searching for answers at a time when the courts are deciding who will, or will not, win titles in the Mountain State.
"That (the involvement of the courts) is a good question," Ray explained. "I don't have an answer (of how to solve the problem). But, it does come down to our member schools as to who participates and who follow the rules."
And, therein lies the difficulty in enforcing those rules.
Not all schools, or the coaches or parents of the athletes in those institutions, are willing to abide by the SSAC's decision when it has a negative effect on that particular school.
"I never want to put into question the integrity of our principals," Ray stressed. "I just hope they will step up and do what they need to do to maintain the integrity of our contests."
The present debacle is not a first and it, unfortunately, won't be the last.
We have become a nation that seems to have lost its way when it comes to "sportsmanship and fair play" in athletics.
Coaches, who consistently find ways to practice out-of-season, use as their reasoning that "everyone else is doing the same thing".
School and county administrators, faced with dealing with angry parents when they try to follow the rules, elect to throw their support toward those individuals rather than support a rule that they, in essence, developed over the years.
There are no easy answers to what we see happening on an all-to-often occasion.
No one wants to see a young athlete lose his or her opportunity to participate in our state's championship venues. But, a line has to be drawn.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org