A Berkeley County judge has granted Goose Creek High School a temporary restraining order against the South Carolina High School League's decision to disqualify its football team from tonight's playoff game against Bluffon.
As a result, Goose Creek is back in the post-season and Conway's season has come to an end. Goose Creek will host Bluffton High School tonight. Judge Roger Young ordered the SCHSL to reconvene no later than Monday night at 5 p.m. to rehear Goose Creek's appeal. If Bluffton beats the Gators tonight, no hearing will need to be held. If Goose Creek wins, the hearing will happen on Monday in Columbia. If the SCHSL disqualifies the Charleston area school, they will forfeit the game and Bluffton will advance to the state semifinals in the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
It's been a bizarre week for the Conway Tigers who were eliminated 48-7 last Friday night in the playoffs by Goose Creek.
On Tuesday, the SCHSL ruled that Goose Creek was disqualified from the playoffs for using an ineligible player. An appeal for mercy was held immediately after and that vote was 10-1 to keep the penalty intact.
Conway had to reissue pads and uniforms and practiced on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for a Bluffton team that beat South Florence last week in the first round of the 4A post-season. Conway was getting ready to make the long bus trip to Hilton Head until the judge made his ruling on early Friday afternoon.
Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy said that the ineligible player was a fifth year senior special needs student who had been at his seventh high school. He played 17 snaps in a total of five games and had no impact in the outcome of any games, according to Reedy. According to the Berkley County School District, Goose Creek High's principal, Jimmy Huskey, contacted the SCHSL on November 12, when it was found that the student's transcript used at the beginning of the season was incomplete. The district said the student's transcript was pulled to determine eligibility for winter sports and the updated transcript showed different information from what was originally available in August.
An appeal was heard on Wednesday night in Columbia, and the High School League's Executive Committee ruled 9-2 to uphold the disqualification. The school district decided Thursday to pursue legal action, which resulted in this morning's hearing before Judge Young.
"Our kids should not be punished inappropriately," Coach Reedy, said. "We did nothing wrong, we self-reported, and we were penalized at an appeal hearing. We are going to play tonight with confidence that our student athletes deserve to be on that field."
Instead of Conway playing at Bluffton, the Hilton Head squad coached by former South Florence coach Ken Cribb is on its way to Charleston to play at the Gators. Goose Creek is 12-0 and has received national rankings and is the defending state champion. The Monday battle will be about Goose Creek and Bluffton.
The only certainty now is that Conway's season is officially over.