ALBANY -- Several players on the Sherwood Christian Academy football team have been ruled academically ineligible for tonight's regular-season final game against Westfield.
However, SCA will travel to Westfield and play the game, despite being short-handed. The roster had already dropped from a season-high 33 players at the beginning of the year to 28, but the Eagles will play Westfield, the No. 2 ranked team in the GISA Class AAA state poll, with only about 18 to 20 players, Sherwood A.D. Alan McWilliams confirmed to The Herald on Thursday.
"Even if we had 11 players we would go and play the game,'' McWilliams said. "Academics are more important at Sherwood than football, but we wouldn't back out of a game because we didn't have a full team.''
The Herald also learned that the team's main offensive stars -- QB Terrance Burnette, running back Philip English and receiver Mack Green -- are all in good academic standing and will play tonight.
And there is even some better news for Eagles fans.
Sherwood (6-3 overall and 5-2 in the GISA Region 2-AAA race) has already qualified for the playoffs. Even if the Eagles lose tonight, they would finish in no worse than a tie for third place in the region with Trinity and Bulloch, and Sherwood would advance because the Eagles own the tiebreaker against those two teams.
McWilliams also added that Sherwood could still be at full strength to open the playoffs next week. SCA is a private school with its own academic standards, so students who fail to pass one course are deemed academically ineligible. But because grades for the nine-week grading period came out two weeks ago -- and the football players have a two-week grace period to make up the grades before they can be ruled ineligible to play -- they can still become eligible if they make the grades up, and they will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. If the players make up the grades before next week's first-round playoff game they would be eligible to play, McWilliams said.