2 Tampa high school football teams forfeit games after investigation

File photo: Sickles High vs. Alonso High
File photo: Sickles High vs. Alonso High

(WFLA) — Two Tampa Bay area high school football teams lost their shot at going to the playoffs.The schools got reports that players were not living at the addresses they claimed they lived at. After the schools conducted their own investigation, they turned it over to the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Sickles High School is the latest school to have this problem with player ineligibility. Earlier this season, Gaither High School also had the same issue. Both schools had to forfeit multiple games.

Sickles High School was 4-3 on the season and was headed to the playoffs in just a few weeks. That was before there was a hiccup in the plans.

“We got information that a student was not living at the address they gave us. We self-reported to the FHSAA and that organization ruled that they had to forfeit some of their games,” said Tanya Arja, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Six games to be exact. Four wins. A few weeks ago, a similar situation happened at Gaither High School.

“We had a student or two students who had given the wrong addresses to the school so the school allowed them to play because they had given them falsified information that they were living at a certain address.”

That was also turned over to the state association and the school had to forfeit three games. We reached out to the coaches of both teams and both school’s athletic directors. They didn’t get back to us.

Five years ago, a similar situation happened to the Armwood High School football team. The punishment for false addresses was a stiff one.

“We had to forfeit 25 games. One was a state championship, one was a state finalist, runner-up too,” said Coach Sean Callahan.

Coach  Callahan doesn’t agree with how the state association penalizes the entire program.

“I felt like that was something that was done off the field. It should have been followed up off the field.”

Coach Callahan believes there’s a perception that coaches know where all players live. That’s not the case.

“What we’re being paid and what we’re asked to do and on top of that we have to know where they’re living, I mean I wouldn’t have any time to do any football at all by the time I get done with everybody,” the coach said.

Jason Stokes, the former head coach at Gaither High School resigned after the initial investigation. We reached out to him for comment and he said that tt was a personal matter.

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