The suspensions come in the wake of the suicide of a sophomore at the Huguenot school.
Speculation raged on social media and among Felicia Garcia's friends that her very public suicide was tied to teasing she endured following an alleged sexual encounter she had with some members of the football team. That teasing was pinned on two students not on the football team, both of whom were later removed from Tottenville, according to sources.
When asked if the suspension of the four players was in any way related to the situation regarding Miss Garcia, 15, Principal John Tuminaro said, "I'm not making that connection. People can make their own connection." Tuminaro told the Daily News, "There may have been some connection. But to put this at the door of particular players would be incorrect."
Tuminaro stressed that "there are no criminal charges" pending against the four players.
"Coach [Jim Munson] and I met with the parents of the students not playing, and this is what we decided we needed to do. I wish I can share more," Tuminaro said.
Neither Munson nor Tuminaro would reveal the identity of the players involved.
Conspicuous by their absence during the Pirates' first two playoff wins were the team's top two offensive players, Augustus Edwards and Malique Belfort.
"I told these guys I wouldn't give their names out. It's just that these other two guys are in a bad spot" because of their high-profile status on the team, Munson said.
Belfort, reached via his Facebook page, declined comment; Edwards could not be reached.
"They will not be playing for the rest of the year," confirmed Tuminaro of the four players, whom Munson labeled "inactive."
The principal emphasized the action was taken, in part, to alleviate pressure on the remaining members of the football team.
"Our school community suffered a real tragedy on so many fronts," Tuminaro said. "If certain people made mistakes along the way, it will be dealt with. I just felt upset because the Tottenville football program has taken so much criticism.
"We just thought it was the thing to do, with what we know."
Tottenville's first playoff win -- a 28-0 victory over Island rival New Dorp -- was its first since a 16-8 win over Port Richmond on Oct. 19.
Four days after that victory, Miss Garcia ended her life by jumping in front of a train at the Staten Island Railway's Huguenot station in full view of schoolmates. A day after the 15-year-old's death, word spread throughout the school and on social media that Miss Garcia may have been the victim of bullying or taunting after she was said to have had an encounter with members of the football team at a postgame party following the win over Port Richmond.
The claims led the NYPD to investigate the situation.
"And it is still an open investigation," Tuminaro said. "They are still looking into several factors.
There's a lot to the story that people don't know about that I can't comment on."
Two law enforcement sources said there had not been any developments in the case. One said no videos or pictures had turned up in subpoenas of cell phones and other devices so far, and that it was unlikely charges would stem from any of the actions of students or football players.
Just before her death, Miss Garcia was in peer mediation at school with counselors for much of the day, her friends had said. The mediation stemmed from Miss Garcia's interactions with two students, who were not football players, but had teased or said mean things to her about her encounter with the players, the source said. One of them had been a close friend of Miss Garcia's.
Those two students have been removed from the school, the source said.
The city Department of Education refused to comment on any expulsions or football suspensions that resulted from the incident.
"We cannot comment because this remains an active investigation. We cannot compromise the investigation," Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said.
When word surfaced of the alleged postgame incident following the win over Port Richmond, it led many to denounce the Tottenville football team through social media outlets. As a home game with Curtis drew near, both Tottenville and Curtis decided to move the contest from the original Oct. 26 date to Oct. 28; then the game was shifted not only to Oct. 29 but to Curtis' St. George field, where it was to have been played without fans in attendance.
Munson acknowledged at the time that "there were safety concerns for our young men. Our principal thought it would be better to play Monday at Curtis with no spectators. There has been a lot of anger directed toward the team."
But with Hurricane Sandy forecast to hit the area that same day, Tottenville took the unique step two days before the makeup date of canceling the contest and accepting a forfeit loss, giving the Pirates their first blemish on the year.
While Tottenville High School was "hectic" in the words of Tuminaro, dealing with its role as a shelter for storm victims, a decision was made at some point during that span regarding the four players.
--- Advance staffer Jillian Jorgensen contributed to this report.
Follow @siadvance on Twitter