A pair of high school football teams in El Paso swapped places on Wednesday, with one school relinquishing its spot in the playoffs for another after it was forced to forfeit two victories for using an ineligible player.
According to the El Paso Times and Associated Press, El Paso (Texas) Dorado High was officially removed from the forthcoming University Interscholastic League football playoffs after its appeal to remain in the postseason contest was denied. The Aztecs self-reported the use of an ineligible player after an internal investigation found that a varsity player who competed in victories against Eastwood (Texas) High and Socorro (Texas) High lived outside the school's residency area.
Because Dorado self-reported the violation, school officials hoped that UIL would be lenient about the team's transgression. Instead, a special meeting held in Lubbock upheld UIL's original ruling, which excludes the school from the football playoffs.
"We felt we presented a good case," Socorro Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Pat O'Neill told the Times. "Unfortunately, the state executive committee felt that the constitution still ruled against our case.
"What we found out was the student in question did not know the all the rules," O'Neill said. "But I thought we handled the situation well. We investigated immediately when we were notified. When we found out the violations, we turned ourselves in."
With Dorado missing out, another El Paso school which the Aztecs defeated in the regular season will take its place. El Paso (Texas) Coronado High, which finished with a record of only 4-6, will face off against San Angelo (Texas) High on Saturday.
While the sudden notice could have caught most programs by surprise, Coronado reportedly began practicing on Monday after it was alerted that there was a chance it could be forced into playoff action.
Now the T-Birds will get that chance, all at the expense of a team which inadvertently played a player it never suspected was any less eligible than any other student athlete.