Westside football forfeits four games because of ineligible player

Westside football has forfeited four wins this season because of the use of an ineligible player.

The Patriots appealed the forfeiture of the wins Monday morning, but it was denied by the Georgia High School Association. The forfeited games included one region win and damaged Westside’s playoff hopes.

“The administration of Westside handled it extremely professionally,” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said. “It was kind of a communication mistake early on. It’s just one of those unfortunate situations, but it is what it is.”

Westside had to forfeit the region win against Harlem and three non-region victories against Cross Creek, Butler and Hephzibah. The player wasn’t eligible for those games but eventually did get approval to play from the hardship process.

“We in no way were out to deceive. It was an issue with his transfer papers,” Westside coach Steve Hibbitts said. “We filled out paperwork for his transfer. Something was missed on our part – my part. I have no problem saying that. It was an oversight. That’s all it was.”

The Patriots were 6-3 overall and 3-2 in Region 3-AA before the forfeits. Westside is now 2-7 overall and 2-3 in the region going into the regular-season finale against Josey.
The top four teams in the region qualify for the Class AA state playoffs. Westside was in third place before the forfeits – thanks to a win over Screven County – but now is fifth. The region game against Harlem is now designated a Bulldogs 1-0 win to make them 7-2 and 3-2.

There’s a chance Westside, Harlem and Screven County could all finish 3-3 in the region. For a three-way tie, the tiebreaker is point differential in games among those three teams. Westside and Screven County would get the two playoff spots in that scenario.

Westside would get the fourth seed if it beats Josey, Harlem beats Laney and Screven County loses to Dublin. The Patriots would then get in over the Gamecocks for the final spot, with Harlem placing third.

But the forfeit has muddied the playoff picture for the region. Westside must beat Josey to have a shot.

“The main thing is I hate it for the kids because the kids accomplished so much this year,” Hibbitts said. “But we still have a chance to make the playoffs.”

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