Opp gets forfeit region win

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Due to an “unintentional” error, Holtville High School has forfeited its first region win against Opp, giving the Bobcats a chance to win their region.

When Opp and Holtville met on Sept. 5, Holtville defeated the Bobcats, 20-14. However, Holtville was forced to forfeit that victory when it was discovered the team used an ineligible player. Holtville immediately removed the player from the team and can keep all its subsequent wins.

The forfeit improves Opp’s record to 5-3 overall, and 4-2 in Class 4A, Region 2, and puts the Bobcats in a three-way tie for first place in their region with St. James and Alabama Christian. Opp has already defeated Alabama Christian, but lost to St. James.

Opp coach Jack Whigham said even with the forfeit win, his team’s mindset going into Friday night’s road game against Montgomery Catholic “hasn’t changed.”

“We told our kids after the Ashford game (a loss on Oct. 2) that we need to win the next three games,” Whigham said. “If we win this one Friday night, we’re definitely in (the playoffs), with or without the forfeit. It’s fortunate that we’re going to get the forfeit — that’s great.”

Holtville principal Jimmy Hull said the mistake was “unintentional.”

“Our coach has not been here for 30 years, but has coached for 30 years,” Hull said. “We had a kid move that we thought was completely eligible to play. We found out after the fact that there may be a problem. We did some research and there was a problem, so we reported it (to the AHSAA).”

Hull said the problem came as a result of a transfer rule.

“He met some of (the requirements), but not all of them,” he said. “Academically he was fine, his age was fine and the documents were fine, but a couple of other points in the details presented a problem.”

Hull declined to comment on what the specific problems were, and did not give the player’s name.

Whigham said there is a “realistic” chance his team can win its region Friday, if the Bobcats defeat Montgomery Catholic.

“If we win the game and St. James loses (to Ashford), then we’re going to win the region,” he said. “There is a realistic chance, yes.

“Our kids realize that there are two or three things that could happen,” he said. “If we win and St. James loses, then we’re the region champions, so they’re really excited about that. “But none of that matters if we don’t win the game Friday night. All we can control is that. We can’t control what’s going to happen to St. James and Ashford. If we’ll go out and win the game, we’ll be in the playoffs.”

In addition, Opp could end up hosting Andalusia in the first round of the playoffs, just one week after hosting the Bulldogs in the last game of the regular season.

“There is a possibility of that,” Whigham said. “We just need to beat Catholic first. They’re playing a lot better. They have a huge football team and they have us really outsized. They knocked us out of a home playoff game last year, so we were forced into a tiebreaker instead of coming in second place and it forced us to travel for the first round.”