GOOSE CREEK — The Goose Creek High School football team’s battle to play in the Division II-AAAA playoffs is still alive. The school is taking its case to court and has a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.
“This afternoon we decided that pursuing a legal course of action was appropriate and justifiable,” Berkeley County School District Superintendent Rodney Thompson said in a press release. “First, the punishment of our students does not fit the infraction. Second, there was no intent to gain competitive advantage in play. Third, there was no intent to deceive; and, fourth, the child in question should qualify for hardship consideration given his special qualifications.”
On Tuesday, High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton ruled Goose Creek had an ineligible player and had to forfeit 10 games, including last week’s lopsided playoff victory over Conway. On Wednesday, The High School League’s Executive Committee upheld Singleton’s decision.
The Joye Law Firm will be handle the case at no cost to the district. Attorneys Ken Harrell and Chris McCool will seek to have Goose Creek High School reinstated to the playoffs. Circuit Judge Roger Young, assigned to the Ninth Judicial Circuit, has agreed to hear the motion at 9 a.m. at the Berkeley County Courthouse.
The Gators were scheduled to play Bluffton in round two of the playoffs on Friday. But for now, Conway will play Bluffton.
The High School League’s Executive Committee voted 9-2 Wednesday night to uphold Goose Creek’s ban from the playoffs for allowing an ineligible player to participate in games.
Goose Creek requested a second vote, asking the committee to consider a hardship case for the student involved. That vote went 10-1 against the team. The name of the player involved was not disclosed.
In their appeal, Reedy and Goose Creek Principal Jimmy Huskey said they notified the league immediately upon learning that a student on the team might be ineligible. They said the school and district exercised the right to appeal based on extraordinary conditions that there was no ill intent and no competitive advantage was gained by the team, players, coaches, staff or administration.
The ineligible player was a transfer student, and the updated student transcript record in question was received after the student was enrolled at the school.
Reedy said the student was a special needs student who attended seven schools, including three high schools.
“It’s not all about winning,” Reedy said. “It’s about helping young people. He had no football skills. He played in five games, less than 20 plays — 17 as a matter of fact. He came in when we had leads of 41, 49, 50, 55 and 56 points.”
Goose Creek player Dylan Steele spoke this morning about the ruling.
“Last Friday, we did not know it would be our last game,” Steele said. “We thought we were moving on to Bluffton. Then Tuesday, the whole thing hit. Coach said we could hit the wall and crumble or keep trucking through. We worked so hard. You don’t know how hard we worked to get here.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter @PancCPhil