Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It will be a celebration fit for a champion.
On Monday the Goose Creek High School football team will be honored by its fans, local politicians and businesses in a ceremony at the school.
The Gators have drawn plenty of support and sympathy since their season was cut short by the South Carolina High School League for unknowingly dressing an ineligible player during the season.
The player is a special needs student on a non-diploma track who played just 17 snaps out of nearly 1,600 during the season. He never entered a game Goose Creek wasn’t winning by at least 41 points.
“The support we’ve received since the end of the year has been overwhelming from everybody in our community, from everybody at the school,” Gators coach Chuck Reedy said. “Just people in general realize the way things happened just weren’t right, and I credit Kenny Harrell and the Joye Law Firm, along with senators Campbell, Grooms and Joe Daning. They’ve all been instrumental in helping to put this thing together. It’s going to be a great event.”
The team will eat a catered meal at 6 p.m. followed by a ceremony at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium. The Gators will be recognized for finishing the season 13-0 and ranked 11th in the nation by USA Today.
While the Gators were stripped of a chance at another South Carolina state title, they will be rewarded with rings to honor their accomplishments during the 2012 season.
“The rings will have the wording ‘Integrity” inscribed on them,” Reedy said. “It’s a reminder that we tried to do the right things and we tried to instill integrity in our kids and tried to live that way. We did what was right. Regardless of what happened afterwards, we set an example of how to do things right.”
Two days after the Gators’ 48-7 win over Conway in the opening round of the playoffs, GCHS principal Jimmy Huskey discovered a possible transcript problem with a member of the football team while reviewing eligibility for basketball and reported the potential violation to the SCHSL.
The Gators were immediately made to forfeit the victory because the player in question competed in the game.
A circuit court judge later reinstated Goose Creek to the playoffs and the Gators defeated Bluffton in the second round, 35-25. But he also said Goose Creek had to reappear in front of the SCHSL two days later.
Again the league’s executive committee booted the Gators from the playoffs, crushing a school and community that were looking forward to a chance at another state title. The 2011 season produced the school’s first.
“We’re really excited that we have an opportunity to recognize the young people that showed nothing but character and class to get something back for what they missed out on,” Huskey said. “A lot of people have stepped up to make it a special night.”