It’s been an interesting year to say the least for the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jacket football team. On Monday morning Yellow Jacket head coach Barrett Davis was preparing to put up the equipment and start cleaning out lockers when he got a call from the Georgia High School Association. The GHSA was calling to inform him that Beach High School had forfeited their entire schedule for playing ineligible players, and that the Jackets are now in the state playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of Region 3-AAA.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for us over the past few weeks,” Davis said. “We went from the possibility of being the third seed, to out of the playoffs, to having a chance to make the playoffs as an at large team, out of the playoffs again, and then we get the call that we are in the playoffs.”
The Jackets played three games in eight days. Last Tuesday they lost to Beach, and had thought they still had a chance at the third seed in the playoffs, as an Islands win over Windsor Forest would setup a three way tie, and the Jackets would win the tiebreaker. Coach Davis then got word immediately after the game that Islands had to forfeit another game, and the Jackets were out of the playoff picture regardless of what happened Friday.
Friday morning Davis heard back from the GHSA that if they won Friday night against Johnson there was a slight chance they could get an at large berth into the state. Regions with only four teams where the fourth team has a poor record can be replaced by an at large team from another region. Davis was then informed over the weekend that the at-large possibility did not look likely.
Monday morning Beach High school self-reported that they had played with ineligible players during the entire season, and the GHSA immediatly stripped the Bulldogs of all wins which gave the Jackets the fourth seed. Southeast Bulloch had already been the beneficiary of a forfeit loss to Islands who had been playing with ineligible players, and Jenkins High was also investigated for the same thing mid season, but was found to have all players in good standing.
“It’s really been unlike anything I’ve experienced before,” Davis said. “There was a lot of talk about Islands and their situation, and then we get word that they had to forfeit their game to us. A couple weeks back Jenkins is under investigation. We never suspected something from Beach, then we get the word today, it’s been crazy.”
The official word came as quite a surprise to Davis, who immediately called for a meeting with all players in the gym.
“The kids were so excited when I told them about it this morning,” Davis said. “I pretty much got tackled into the stage as they all rushed to me and were screaming and yelling. Nobody wants to hang up their pads for the last time, so the seniors were especially grateful."
Despite the heavy workload and plenty of uncertainty over their ultimate postseason fate, Yellow Jacket players jumped right back into preparation mode as soon as they knew that they have another game to prepare for.
“The last thing we heard was that we missed out on the at large possibility, so we figured it was over,” said senior quarterback Peyton Carr. “The next thing we know we were in the auditorium and coach said we were in and it was just crazy."
“I felt like something was up when they called us to the auditorium,” said senior running back Jamari Daniel. “When he finally told us it was such a relief, and so great to hear we would get another chance.”
So the Jackets go from packing up their equipment, to packing up for a road trip to Cordele for a matchup with the 7-3 Cougars of Crisp County.
“Coach Harber does a great job at Crisp County,” Davis said. “We have our work cut out for us. We are a little behind, as we had no idea we would be in this situation. They are in a similar spot, as they thought they’d be playing Windsor Forest, we will just do the best we can.”
The Yellow Jackets and Cougars are scheduled for a 7:30 start Friday in Cordele.