A late self-reported ineligible player for an Arkansas football program led to the state’s first delay in the Class AAA football playoffs for non-weather related issues since 1999.
As reported by Arkansas Online and Gannett partner the Baxter Bulletin, the sudden forfeiture of Earle’s season due to the use of an ineligible player cast the entire bracket in disarray. Earle is now out of the playoffs, Salem — the school Earle eliminated in the quarterfinals with a 50-31 final score — is back in the semifinals, and no one seems quite sure what to make of things.
Earle was 10-1 before self reporting the violation, and their late stage removal from the playoff process left even those who benefitted from it questioning what was coming next.
While it hasn’t been confirmed, this is one floating report about how the school missed the ineligible player until now:
“It’s sad and depressing right now,” Miller, a longtime assistant under A.C. Coleman at Earle, told Arkansas Online. “It’s frustrating. You wait until the day before the semifinal game and come tell us.
“It was devastating to all of [the players].”
“I didn’t find out until 4 this afternoon,” Wiggins told Arkansas Online. “Everybody’s excited about the fact that we get to put the pads on right now.
“If we would have had to play [today], we would have been in trouble. We would have been playing with a short hand.”
Instead, Salem will get an extra week to prepare, and an extra life in the playoffs, long after its coaches and players had come to grips with a season in the rearview mirror.