GOOSE CREEK — Goose Creek principal Jimmy Huskey went down swinging, still believing the student at the center of the football team’s week-long battle with the High School League was 100 percent eligible.
But on Tuesday, Huskey admitted the school has exhausted all avenues of appeals and there was no other recourse for the state’s top-ranked football team.
And with that, the Gators’ season was over.
Goose Creek lost two appeals before the High School League’s executive committee in five days, and Huskey said another challenge in court would not be fruitful. It was time to move forward and begin the healing process.
“We’ll come back as a bigger and better Gator nation,” Huskey said Tuesday at a news conference held at the school.
Goose Creek’s football season appeared to be over last week when the executive committee upheld league commissioner Jerome Singleton’s ruling that the Gators had used an ineligible player in 10 games this season, including a first-round playoff win against Conway on Nov. 9.
The Gators took their case to court on Friday, and Circuit Judge Roger Young granted a temporary restraining order that allowed the school to play in Friday night’s game against Bluffton, a 35-25 Gators victory. Young also ruled the executive committee had to convene in open session to reconsider the eligibility requirements based on its rules.
On Monday, Goose Creek pleaded its case again before the committee, which ruled against the Gators for the second time.
Coach Chuck Reedy called his tenure at Goose Creek the most rewarding 11 years of his professional career, but said he will be re-evaluating his future as a coach after dealing with the executive committee.
“I will have a difficult time being associated with a group of people like that,” he said, referring to the members as puppets.
“This has to do with a group of people who disregard the sense of fair play,” he said. “I begged them — ‘fine me, suspend me, or fire me.’ ”
Reedy said he was upset that most of the seniors on the team will never play football again.
“That’s the part that bothers me,” he said.
The school had to pay $3,300 in fines and the final cost of Goose Creek’s fight could cost about $10,000. Huskey said the school will have to pay for court costs and for the travel expenses of the executive committee members. The money will come from the football team’s profits and not from taxpayers. The attorneys representing Goose Creek — Ken Harrell and Chris McCool — waived their fees.
Goose Creek, the defending state champion in Division II-AAAA, was 13-0 and riding a 26-game winning streak. Bluffton, the team Goose Creek beat last week, advances and will play at Northwestern in a state semifinal on Friday.