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Lies, Greed, And Wildcats Of A Different Kind

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 6, 2007

Growing up in Memphis, Bolton High School to many kids, like myself, was nothing more than a school tucked away in the middle of nowhere that had an outstanding basketball program that won State Championships in the 1970s and 1980s.

When it came to football, Bolton was more, in a sense, similar to the sad-sack opponent your favorite college team plays on Homecoming — an easy win that would more than likely leave the team in body bags.

But in the last decade or so, Bolton has been one of the best football programs in Region 5A with many standouts going on to play football at the next level, turning what was for many years a laughingstock in prep football into a formidable power.

Which in a sense sounds familiar to fans of a certain high school in the Orange Mound section of Memphis and how that program became the team everyone loved to hate during the mid-90’s.

And now, like the 2000 Melrose squad that was probably one of the best prep teams in Memphis history to never win the state title, the success that Bolton had in 2007 will be erased from the record book due in part to an overbearing mother’s desire to have her son play at a football power like Bolton.

Prior to the start of the season, junior defensive back Orlando Mendenhall transferred from Craigmont High School (a city school) to Bolton High School (a county school), which sounded at the beginning like an ordinary transfer.

But because of the fact that he was playing last year at Craigmont and he was at a new school, he would have to sit out a year and then play his senior year, which is something that athletes who transfer in from another school at the college and prep level do all the time.

That is, unless he could prove to the Bolton administration that he lived in the district thus allowing him to play right away.

Instead of doing what my mother did for me when I was in school, using a person’s address (i.e. relative or family friend) who actually lived in the district, Mendenhall’s mother went to an unnamed student’s parent and asked to use theirs without any regard to the rules and regulations of TSSAA.

According to what was said recently in the paper, the parent said that Mendenhall had moved from Craigmont’s district to another school district (not Bolton) and felt that he would have not been safe at the other school, stating the method behind her madness for forging documents.

And because of this, the Wildcats, who I believed would have made a deep run in the postseason, will probably have to sit and watch Ridgeway (who was supposed to be eliminated from playoff consideration) and Cordova(who was blown out by Millington Central Friday) make runs at the state crown if their appeal to the TSSAA is denied in an 11:30 a.m. meeting Monday at Hunters Lane High School in Nashville.

All because a parent lied for her son and screwed a group of four-year players from playing at least one more game in their careers.

These kids shouldn’t have to suffer because of this. They’ve worked too hard to get to this point and have it taken away from them because a parent tried to live through their child and use every dirty trick in the book to weasel their kid into a football powerhouse.

Bolton’s adminstration should not have blood on their hands because of something that went on up under their noses. They handled the thing internally and well, there was only so much they could do as far as attendance records are concerned, especially a single kid out of 1600 that played football.

And for Mrs. Mendenhall, what needs to happen is some legal action taken against her for forging documents in order to let her son play sports at Bolton. The best punishment for her would be 2 years probation with a $20,000 fine.

That is, unless she can forge a legitimate excuse better than the one she gave the principal over at Bolton.

She ought to be good at doing that by now.

Doc’s Update:The TSSAA on Monday afternoon just denied the appeal filed by Bolton High School. This decision came after an 11:30 a.m. hearing held at Hunters Lane High School. Bolton will now have a record of 1-9 and will miss the playoffs along with Bartlett High School, who was eliminated after Friday’s loss to Ridgeway.

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