Wayne Hills (N.J.) is back in the state football playoffs.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) made its ruling late Tuesday afternoon after hours of witness testimony, cross-examination and evidence on the residency issue surrounding the family of Hunter, Tyler and Jaaron Hayek, Wayne Hills High School football players.
After a five-hour hearing and an hour deliberation, representatives of the NJSIAA delivered their decision to waiting family and press.
The Patriots will keep their place as the No. 1 seeded team and participate in this year’s North 1, Group 4 football playoffs. Hunter, Tyler and Jaaron Hayek were proven to have a “bona fide” change of address to their Wayne home, and the Patriots will keep their 8-1 season record and proceed to the playoffs. They will face Roxbury on Sunday, 2:30 p.m. in Wayne.
“The NJSIAA is formed to protect and serve student athletes. What happened here today fits in with that requirement,” said Michael Herbert, a representative for the NJSIAA.
“The NJSIAA evidenced today that these boys had residency in Wayne even though there are two homes involved, there was not evidence saying otherwise,” Herbert said.
“It turned out in our favor and I’m just happy we’ll get to play,” said player Tyler Hayek, a senior at Wayne Hills.
Darren Del Sardo, Hayek family attorney, said the evidence was “overwhelmingly” on his clients’ side and he said the hearing was “fair.”
He said evidence he produced to prove the students’ Wayne residency included utility bills, leases, checks and other documents in addition to testimony from six sources. (Tyler Hayek is being represented by attorney Stephen Edelstein.)
Edelstein, who represented Tyler Hayek separately, did say the family did not update their driver’s licenses, which were issued in September 2015.
The split in representation for the brothers was “strategic” according to Edelstein, who would not elaborate.
“They described the home to a ‘T’,” said Del Sardo of the witnesses’ testimony earlier in the afternoon.
Edelstein said the Wayne home where the boys lived with their father was described as a “one bedroom with two large queen beds” and a “very large sofa” by witnesses. Their mother, the attorneys said, remained in Woodland Park.
Following the decision, WHHS head football Coach Wayne Demikoff said he was happy with the outcome. When asked if he had been worried or had doubts about the outcome, he said anytime something such as this takes place, you just don’t know how it will go.
The hearing was scheduled after Wayne schools Superintendent Mark Toback self-reported an issue to the NJSIAA regarding the eligibility of three players on the Wayne Hills football team. The three Hayek brothers were reported by the school to not have filed “bona fide” changes of addresses when they began attending Wayne Public Schools.