MADISON TWP. — Madison High School’s football season is over.
That was the reluctant message from Madison superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff on Monday after the school district scrapped its plans to pursue legal action in the wake of Saturday’s Division V, Region 20 playoff loss to defending state champion Wheelersburg at Hilliard Darby.
The issue in question involved a man on the Madison sideline — Derrick Mosley II — who had a Wheelersburg team-staff sideline pass with his name on it. Madison officials suspected he was relaying Mohawk information to the Wheelersburg coaches.
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Tuttle-Huff was on the sideline and said she heard Mosley say, “Two man wide,” into a microphone as Madison broke its huddle for a play in the final seconds of the 24-16 defeat. She said she wasn’t the only person who heard those words.
“It’s interesting because I can’t tell you if the boys had even moved to ‘two man wide’ at that point,” Tuttle-Huff said.
Madison officials felt there was strong evidence that Wheelersburg was attempting to gain an unfair advantage by having eyes and ears on the opposing sideline. Mohawks coach Steve Poff said when Mosley was approached by his coaches, he said he was talking to his wife.
“He is stating that he was doing trailers for his company and that he was shooting the video and he was doing the audio in his hand,” Tuttle-Huff said.
Tuttle-Huff, Poff, athletic director Matt Morrison, school board member Chad Norvell and members of the Madison coaching staff made an unannounced visit to the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Monday morning to plead their case. They met with executive director Jerry Snodgrass and football administrator Beau Rugg.
Thanks to an earlier email from Tuttle-Huff, the OHSAA had already contacted several Wheelersburg officials, who denied any wrongdoing. Mosley sent his video clips to the OHSAA, and Madison officials then got a look at them.
“They were edited films,” said Tuttle-Huff, noting that the parts Madison needed were missing.
She said the district wanted to try to get a temporary restraining order in court, but that idea was nixed when its lawyer said there simply wasn’t enough evidence to support it.
“I don’t want it to sound like we’re being sore losers because we’re not. That’s not what it is,” Tuttle-Huff said. “If I weren’t there and I didn’t hear it and I didn’t have three other people standing there that heard what was going on … it did not sound like you were talking to a video. It’s sad because we know what we heard. We just don’t have enough evidence.”
Cox Media attempted to reach Mosley and Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward for comments Monday. They did not respond to text messages.
Mosley’s Facebook page lists him as a video producer/editor at The Marketing Company and owner/founder of Crowd Creative.
A Sunday post on his page said the following: Never in my life would I have ever imagined that talking to my wife while doing my job would cause so much trouble. #RespectTheShooter
The OHSAA didn’t have to make any kind of statement once Madison chose not to pursue legal action. Wheelersburg, which defeated the Mohawks 15-10 in last year’s state semifinals, will play Johnstown-Monroe in the Final Four on Saturday.
“It seems like every time we run into Wheelersburg, it’s something else shady,” Poff said. “We know that they had more than one person wearing Wheelersburg passes and clothing on our sideline. We know for a fact that Derrick Mosley had a microphone in his sleeve and earbuds in his ears.
“When he was on our side, he had a camera in his hands. All the pictures we have where he’s on the other side, he’s just watching the game. He doesn’t have a camera in his hand at all, and he’s supposed to be the videographer and all that for Wheelersburg. It’s kind of odd that their head coach said, ‘We don’t even know who that is.’ ”
Poff said getting Madison back into the playoffs would’ve been the ultimate justice, but he knew that was a long shot.
“The whole thing is just entirely too shady,” Poff said. “The whole trip up there, the whole experience, seemed to be a little off. Wheelersburg guys coming over to get our balls to have them checked by the referees … when does that ever happen? Well, it happened. Our coaches wouldn’t give the balls to them, but who does that?
“You hear all this about doing things right and teaching these kids to be leaders and respecting the game. I see a group of people that’s doing anything to win.”
Tuttle-Huff said if Mosley was really just doing video work, he should’ve been wearing a green media pass instead of the pink Wheelersburg team-staff pass.
“I went as far as I can go to try to vindicate our boys and it didn’t happen. I apologize to our community,” Tuttle-Huff said. “It’s very disheartening.”
The Mohawks finished 12-1 and will lose a much-heralded 18-player senior class to graduation. But Poff said Madison fans should expect more success in the future.
“What do you consider a step back?” Poff said. “Are you ever going to replace that defensive line or Caleb Bolen and those other seniors on the offensive line? Probably not, but somebody will play. Somebody will get in there and learn how to play fast. There’s tons and tons of talent on this team that people don’t know about. They just don’t know their names yet.”
As for the game itself, Poff said he fully expected Madison to fight back and win after trailing 24-6 at halftime. The Mohawks were penalized 13 times for 140 yards and ended the game about 5 yards from the WHS end zone.
“I thought our kids played with an incredible amount of heart,” Poff said. “We made our mistakes during the game and that’s going to happen, but I feel like they played good enough to win. I feel like they played like champions and represented themselves like champions before and after the game.
“I wish the whole situation wasn’t overshadowed by outside influences, but that’s what we’re dealing with. I want my kids to know we love them. It was an incredible season.”