Peach school board member discusses championship controversy
Peach County school officials will travel to Thomaston on Monday to appeal Friday's controversial state football championship game to the Georgia High School Association.
Tuesday's regular school board meeting began with a football parent asking the board if there is anything being done in response to the game, which Peach County lost to Calhoun 10-6 following a disputed call that went against Peach.
Superintendent Daryl Fineran, whose son plays on the team, responded by stating that the GHSA board of trustees has agreed to a hearing with Peach County on Monday. He and school board members then spoke about their disappointment with what they said was a clearly bad call that cost Peach County the game.
""I feel that our kids, our young men, are victims of events and circumstances caused by adults," Fineran said. "It’s time for adults to get together and try to fix it for them."
The Trojans lost after what appeared to be a catch at the goal line was called incomplete on fourth down with 3:40 remaining.
School board member Ben McDaniel praised the reaction of the coaches and players after the game and was glad the GHSA will hear their case.
"I don't know what can be done, but I hope they are able to do something for the kids and their families," he said. "These student athletes put in a lot of time and that's their goal is to play in that game and be successful."
Board member Ben Hoots said he hopes at least GHSA will make some changes as a result of the game.
"I'm very sorry this has happened with our state championship team, but I do hope the process for GHSA can only improve by what has gone on," he said.
The school officials didn't say exactly what they would like to see GHSA do, but one parent in the audience had a suggestion. Charlotte Woolfolk, who has two sons on the team, said after leaving the meeting that she thinks the game should be replayed from the point of the disputed call, with Peach either having it first and goal or a touchdown.
"The referee, he made a huge mistake which put a huge dent in the heart of the coaches, and the players as well as the parents and the fans," she said. "They just left heartbroken."
She also said there should be a replay system put into place in high school sports.
During an interview with a Rome radio station earlier this week, Glenn White, president of the Georgia High School Association's executive committee, said he had watched the Peach County/Calhoun game on TV and had seen the controversial pass play near the end of the game.
"Speaking as a football fan," he said, "I thought at worst it was a first down" at the 1 yard line "and at best it was a touchdown."
He added, "Just watching it, I really felt like it was a bad call" by the referee. "When you watched that (play), it really looked like (the referee) missed the call as far as the kid catching the ball," he said.
White said that "reliable sources" have told him that video from the game showed that the Peach County receiver, Noah Whittington, had stepped out of bounds around the 10 yard line while running his route. If so, that would make him ineligible to come back in bounds and catch a pass. Asked about the prospect of using instant replay to validate contested calls during high school games, White said: "We just don't have the resources" to do so. "Calhoun is definitely the 3-A champion," he said. "I don't see that changing at all."
Woolfolk and others at the school board meeting said they haven't seen any video that showed Whittington ran out of bounds and do not believe that he did.
Editor Oby Brown contributed to this report.