E.A. Sports Today

Appeal approved

AHSAA Central Board restores White Plains’ playoff eligibility, and the Wildcats can make their first berth since 1994 with a victory over Munford on Friday plus help.

Updated Region 4 standings

Updated Class 4A, Region 4 standings to reflect White Plains’ successful appeal for playoff eligibility, with overall and region record reflecting games White Plains has played or forfeited against region opponents.

White Plains2-52-2
Cleburne County3-42-2

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

White Plains is eligible for the 2023 Alabama high school football playoffs, after all, and the Wildcats have their best chance in years to earn their first playoff berth since 1994 on Friday.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board on Tuesday approved a District 6 decision to grant White Plains’ appeal for playoff eligibility. The Central Board action occurred at Tuesday’s 10 a.m. meeting in Montgomery.

White Plains can go a long way toward clinching a playoff berth with a victory in Friday’s Class 4A, Region 4 game against Munford at home. If the Wildcats win and Anniston beats Cleburne County on Oct. 27, White Plains goes to the playoffs.

The Wildcats hope to make the playoffs for the second time in the program’s 52-year history and first since 1994.

“I’m 100 percent excited for our players and coaches,” White Plains principal Andy Ward said. “They have worked extremely hard and won the last two games. They have an opportunity on Friday night.

“That is all we wanted is for our team to have an opportunity.”

First-year White Plains coach Blake Jennings informed the team after Tuesday’s practice.

“They were excited, a bunch of hollering and screaming,” he said.

The AHSAA announced that White Plains would be ineligible for the playoffs after Calhoun County Schools superintendent Dr. Jose Reyes ordered the Wildcats not to play their Sept. 22 game at Anniston. Reyes’ decision came in the wake of a shooting involving Anniston students earlier that week.

The shooting prompted Anniston to cancel its homecoming parade and pep rally that were scheduled for the day before the game. Reyes’ decision followed those cancellations.

White Plains is one of seven high schools that fall under the Calhoun County Board of Education umbrella. Anniston High falls under its own independent school system.

Reyes’ decision meant that White Plains would forfeit a Class 4A, Region 4 game. By AHSAA rules, forfeiting a region game makes the forfeiting team ineligible for the playoffs, and none of the forfeiting team’s games count as region games.

Ward appealed to Central Board District 6 representatives Mike Welsh, Larry Davidson, Quentin Lee and Chad Young at Oxford High School the week following the initial decision to forfeit the game. Calhoun County Board of Education deputy superintendent Tony Dowdy also attended the meeting.

District 6 granted the appeal, and the Central Board approved the district-level decision Tuesday. Ward and Dowdy represented White Plains in Montgomery.

The basis of the appeal was Reyes’ reasoning for ordering White Plains to forfeit the Anniston game. The rule penalizing region forfeits is designed to prevent attempts to gain competitive advantage, but Reyes’ decision to order the forfeit was based on concern for the safety of White Plains personnel and fans.

Reyes met with White Plains coaches and players.

“What I did let them know was that we would be appealing the decision of the AHSAA,” he said, “and I wanted them to know that we needed them to just keep playing and let’s see what happens.”

Now that the Central Board has approved White Plains’ appeal, the Wildcats’ victories over Talladega and Cleburne County on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13, respectively, will count as region games. White Plains has a 2-2 region record to go with a 2-5 overall record.

White Plains has the head-to-head tiebreaker on Cleburne County, which now has a 2-2 region record. A victory over Munford (1-3 region) on Friday would put White Plains’ region record at 3-2, and the Wildcats would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker on the Lions.

Munford closes out region play Oct. 27 against sixth-ranked Handley, and White Plains closes region play against seventh-ranked Jacksonville the same night.

Cleburne County, having lost three consecutive games and four of its past five, plays at Handley on Friday and closes out region play against Anniston on Oct. 27. The Tigers beat Munford 37-21 on Sept. 22.

The Wildcats’ game with Munford “is the biggest game that’s probably been played here at White Plains High School in a lot of years,” Jennings said.

The Central Board also …

— Upheld the AHSAA’s ruling concerning the Coosa Christian decision. The school was fined and had to forfeit four games over a violation of the transfer rule.

— Approved a request from Elmore County High School to reinstate a student-athlete’s eligibility.

— Approved naming the AHSAA Athletic Revenue Program in honor of former Executive Director Steve Savarese. The Revenue Share Plan, approved first by the Central Board in 2009, will have returned $2,250,000 overall to its member schools once the current allocation is distributed later this month. The plan returns excess funds back to the schools when the AHSAA has at least one
year’s working capital in reserve.

— Named the AHSAA Auditorium in honor of former Executive Director Dan Washburn.

— Approved four schools currently participating in the Alabama Independent School Association for membership beginning with the 2024-25 school year: Autauga Academy, Glenwood School, Lee-Scott Academy and Pickens Academy.

— Approved a request by Oakwood Adventist Academy, based on the by-law passed last
year, concerning dates and times for the 2024 AHSAA basketball playoffs.

— Approved the AHSADCA budgets for the 2023 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game and the North-South Football All-Star Game, both set for December.

— Heard a financial report from Chief Finance Officer Amy Gulledge.

— Approved the Super 7 budget and heard a presentation from Knight Eady’s Daniel Smith concerning Super 7 credentials, agenda, and other daily operations during the three-day event set for Dec. 6-7-8 in Tuscaloosa.

— Heard a classification timeline report from Assistant Director Marvin Chou and set Dec. 18 as fall classification meeting.

— Set the Winter Central Board meeting for Jan. 17, 2024

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