Isabella playoff opponent changes due to forfeits
Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021
By ZACHARY SEIFTER/ Staff Writer
On Oct. 25, the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced that three schools had violated eligibility rules during the 2021 football season. Those three schools were St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Leroy High School and Anniston High School.
St. Luke’s and Leroy violated the AHSAA Bona Fide Move Rule, meaning each school had players ineligible based on a recent move or did not live in the school zone of their schools. Those players competed in six games for each of those two schools. Anniston violated the AHSAA Academic Rule, as a student that was not academically qualified to compete in sports participated in two games for the school.
As a result, these schools were forced to forfeit the games in which ineligible players participated.
While none of these schools are in Chilton County, this news is relevant, as Isabella High School was slated to host St. Luke’s in the first round of the 2A football playoffs.
Now, St. Luke’s will not qualify for the playoffs due to the forfeits. Instead, J.U. Blacksher School in Uriah will take their place, and they will face Isabella in the playoffs.
Despite the change in opponent, the Mustangs are not yet focused on the postseason. They have their regular season finale this week against Keith High School, so that is what Isabella is focusing on.
“There’s no effect,” Isabella head coach Tate Leonard said. “We’ve got a game this week, so we really don’t look ahead. Our focus is on getting better every day at practice and trying to find a way to beat Keith.”
The Mustangs were fortunate that all of this occurred while the regular season is still going on. It would have been a much more difficult situation had this happened after the season had concluded, a fact not lost on Leonard.
“It would’ve been rough to find out the week of,” Leonard said. “It really doesn’t affect us this far out because we haven’t begun to prepare for that opponent yet anyway. It is a relief that we do know about it ahead of time.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Isabella will be prepared for the first round of the playoffs. The opponent may have changed, but the Mustangs’ mindset has not. Once their game against Keith has ended, all focus will be on J.U. Blacksher, and Isabella will be ready.