During a career that started more than 20 years ago, Trinity coach Ed Dalton has worked under a strict rule:
"Arguing with officials is the lowest form of coaching," he said.
That's why it was so surprising to him and those around his team that he was ejected from Trinity's game against Chartiers Valley on Sept. 26. The ejection carries an automatic one-game suspension that Dalton served Friday during a 14-6 loss to Belle Vernon in the WPIAL Class AAA Big Seven Conference.
"I haven't been ejected in 20 years," said Dalton, who said the last time it happened was in 1988 when he was at Purchase Line High School. "I don't think I had an unsportsmanlike penalty in 10 or 12 years. I don't think it was fair, but it was not for me to determine."
Dalton said he went out on the field to argue with an official during a timeout when he believed a tipped ball call was missed.
"He wasn't going to hear anything and he said, 'One more word ... ' and he threw a 15-yard penalty.
"That was the first time."
Later, he said officials called a procedure penalty on Trinity after the snap and changed it to illegal formation. The ensuing argument got Dalton thrown out of the game.
"For me to argue a call -- you could verify it with someone else -- probably means I am most of the time correct," he said. "I am not a guy who argues with officials. They have a tough job to do. I always say, 'Let them officiate,' and (the calls) will even out."
Dalton, who is in his ninth year at Trinity after stints at Purchase Line, Altoona and Mt. Pleasant, spent the night scouting the Chartiers Valley/Ringgold game. Trinity is scheduled to play Ringgold on Oct. 24.
"Not being with my team, I felt like I let my team down," he said.
Just as critical for Trinity were the injuries to its three top running backs. Dan Miller, who has rushed for 430 yards this season, didn't play against Belle Vernon (MCL injury), and Dusty Avolio and Mike Preston hurt their shoulders during the game.
Dalton will return Friday just in time for the push for the final two playoff spots from the Big Seven. Chartiers Valley (5-1, 4-0) and Thomas Jefferson (5-1, 3-0 and the Tribune-Review's top-ranked team in Class AAA) meet for first place while Ringgold, Elizabeth Forward, Trinity, West Mifflin and Belle Vernon are clustered in third and fourth with one victory each.
The logjam will loosen a little when Trinity (2-4, 1-3) plays host to visiting West Mifflin (2-4, 1-2).