For the first time this season, the Goose Creek Gator's football team has lost. The Gators lost an appeal that sought to overturn a ruling that disqualified the school's football team from the state playoffs Wednesday.
School officials were in Columbia seeking to reverse the ruling that disqualified the defending champs. A South Carolina High School League panel held a closed door meeting Wednesday evening to hear an appeal by school officials who included Coach Chuck Reedy, Principal Jimmy Huskey and Superintendent Rodney Thompson.
The panel gave their decision a little after 7 p.m., denying Goose Creek's appeal by a vote of 9-2. After the initial vote, the board went back into private session as school officials asked for mercy to allow the team to continue playing despite losing the appeal. That request was denied by a vote of 10-1.
Parents, students and members of the football team huddled in the back parking lot of Goose Creek High School checking twitter for updates while the panel was in deliberations.
Once it was clear the ruling officially barred the Gators from the playoffs, a group of parents sighed in pain. Many Goose Creek families cried after learning the news.
"The kids are going to be devastated," said Tammy Daniels.
Michele Hood said "I can't tell you how deeply that this community is going to be hurt by this."
Bruce Hulion, Commissioner of SC Football Coaches Association and an executive with the SCHSL, said Goose Creek was disqualified for using an ineligible player.
School officials say the student in question is a transfer student. The transcript provided by the student's previous school was incomplete when the player signed up for football.
It was not until the student was being registered for winter sports that an updated transcript was used and an error was found, officials say.
The Berkeley County School District says that Reedy and Huskey notified the league immediately upon learning that a student may be ineligible for play.
A press release by district officials says the school and district exercised their right to appeal based on "extraordinary conditions that they believe demonstrates no ill intent and no competitive advantage was gained by the team players, the coaches, the staff or administration."
"We are surprised and disappointed at the outcome of this decision," Thompson said. "We have upheld the best interests of our students. We are proud of their accomplishments to date and how they have handled adversity during this trying time."
Goose Creek, the defending 4A Division II state champions, were set to play Bluffton Friday, Nov. 16 in the playoffs. Now Conway, who was defeated by the Gators last week, will travel to Bluffton on Friday night.
Shortly after the decision, Goose Creek players starting voicing their displeasure with the decision on Twitter.
Wide Receiver Tramel Terry (TeamTDTerry_GC): I cant believe i will never ever run out of that helmet again i am so hurt man
I will never forget this feeling I PROMISE you i WONT
Running Back Rashard Alston (@shadxavier5): I can't stop these tears man I LOVE my brothers we worked sooooo hard :'-(
Linebacker Jalen Stevens (@jstevens_9): I have dedicated my football career to my grandma since she left this earth. Why did my senior football season end like this???
My senior year.... Why man? Why!!!!!
Cornerback Omar McRae (@cb_mccrae11): When another team can beat us then y'all can talk #GATORNATION
Defensive End Gerald Turner (@GC_gator33): Man this hurt bad man. I swear I didn't want my senior year to end like this man.
One thing interesting to note, Superintendent Rodney Thompson left the door slightly open after the ruling in Columbia. In a statement he said, "We will be looking into our options and next steps."
A press conference is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. Goose Creek high principal Jimmy Huskey and football head coach Chuck Reedy are set to address thes SCHSL decision denying Goose Creek's appeal.
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