Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec denied entry to WPIAL field hockey finals by North Allegheny officials
Five days after Phil Jurkovec's celebration caused controversy, the Pine-Richland quarterback was denied entry into North Allegheny's stadium.
His father, Jim, confirmed that Jurkovec was turned away Wednesday night from the WPIAL field hockey championships. Jurkovec had led teammates in a midfield flag-planting celebration at Newman Stadium last Friday after Pine-Richland's football team defeated rival North Allegheny, 48-28.
Jurkovec returned Wednesday with his family for the WPIAL field hockey championship, which also matched Pine-Richland and North Allegheny, but wasn't able to watch his classmates.
NA athletic director Bob Bozzuto and Pine-Richland athletic director Josh Shoop each declined comment.
In a statement, North Allegheny's administration connected the decision to Friday's football game.
“The North Allegheny School District is aware of an incident that occurred after Friday night's football game against Pine-Richland,” said the statement. “In order to ensure a thorough investigation of the inappropriate actions and remarks allegedly made by members of the Pine-Richland football team toward members of the North Allegheny Marching Band during their post-game performance on senior night, North Allegheny administration has been working in cooperation with Pine-Richland to determine the facts of the incident.
“Until the facts of the matter have been resolved, North Allegheny reserves the right to ensure that events that occur on district property are orderly and welcoming for all in attendance.”
On Friday night, Pine-Richland's players celebrated in the middle of the field as North Allegheny's band stood along the home sideline for a postgame performance. Jurkovec, a Notre Dame commit, carried a Pine-Richland flag around the field and then symbolically planted it at midfield. It was reminiscent of when Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield planted a flag in Ohio State's logo in September.
Afterward, Jurkovec said: “People might be mad about that, but I find it harmless. I wasn't trying to be mean in any way, but it's a rivalry game. If NA would beat us and they did that to us, they planted their flag at our 50, I would just say they have the right to do that because they won. It's just a rivalry game. That's what makes it fun.”
The field hockey championship was a WPIAL-run event, but the WPIAL was not included in any decision to deny entry, executive director Tim O'Malley said.
“It occurred without our knowledge,” O'Malley said. “It was certainly unfortunate and we will address it going forward. That's a situation that, had we known in advance, we would have made every effort to avert it. We didn't know about it. We found out about it this morning.”