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Cleveland Seeks Reinstatement of 5 Senior Starters : High school football: Team will appeal today to City rules panel that suspended the players for rest of season for their roles in fight after Granada Hills game.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a special meeting today, the Cleveland High football team will appeal a City Section Rules Committee decision that apparently has ended the high school football careers of five senior starters.

Cleveland officials appealed to district administrator Dick Browning on Tuesday after the committee suspended Junior Brignac, Alex Kalinowski, Leo Almodovar, Keewan Irving and Sidney Smith for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs, for their roles in a postgame fight with Granada Hills on Oct. 25.

Browning referred the appeal back to the committee, a portion of which will hear Cleveland’s case.

Both Cleveland and Granada Hills submitted reports in a special Rules Committee meeting Monday. The committee also placed both football programs on probation and suspended one unnamed player from Granada Hills.

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Cleveland Coach Joe Santellano said he will show a videotape, obtained from Kalinowski’s parents, that he asserts will exonerate the suspended players.

In addition, each player wrote a letter explaining his role in the brawl.

The players attended practice Tuesday but did not participate in drills. They expressed shock at the suspensions and denied wrongdoing.

“When I was told what happened my mouth just dropped,” Brignac said. “I didn’t expect anything this severe.”

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If the suspensions are upheld, they will damage the postseason chances of Cleveland (6-3, 4-2 in Northwest Valley Conference play). The Cavaliers likely would qualify for the City Section 4-A Division playoffs with a victory Thursday over El Camino Real.

Brignac, an NCAA Division I prospect, is the starting quarterback, Kalinowski has caught 10 touchdown passes, and Irving has been the Cavaliers’ top running back the second half of the season.

Smith is a defensive back and Almodovar is a linebacker.

“We have a chance to do something in the playoffs this year, but this will probably kill it if this stands,” said Kalinowski, who will take a recruiting trip to California this weekend. “I don’t want this to hurt my chances of getting a scholarship. It sure doesn’t help.”

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