DADE CITY — Zephyrhills’ hopes for an upset win over Pasco — and a playoff berth through Monday’s tiebreaker — took a major blow over eligibility concerns Friday night.
Zephyrhills sidelined three players in the Bulldogs’ 56-17 loss to the Pirates as the school tries to determine the eligibility of running back Willie Williams, receiver/defensive back Jordan Roberts and sophomore lineman Quinton Foster.
“I can confirm school administrators decided to hold several student-athletes out tonight from competition,” said Phil Bell, the district athletic director for Pasco County Schools.
Bell declined to give specifics about the investigation but said that these decisions come from school administrators.
Williams and Roberts have been key components to the Bulldogs’ playoff push in Class 5A, District 6. Williams has rushed for 11 touchdowns and 727 yards in his senior season after transferring from Palm Bay Heritage.
Roberts, a junior track star who won district titles in the 100 meters and high jump last spring, had touchdown catches against Gulf and Hudson. The 6-foot-1 speedster grabbed two interceptions last week to help the Bulldogs upset Fivay in a must-win game.
He said he does not expect the Bulldogs to have to forfeit games — which could throw off an already chaotic playoff race. Zephyrhills, Anclote and Fivay are scheduled to play a tiebreaker Monday at Fivay to decide the No. 2 spot in the district.
“I’m going to continue to work with school administrators and the FHSAA to guide us through this,” Bell said.
Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts declined to comment after the game about the eligibility concerns. But he did say he does not expect the three players to be cleared to participate in Monday’s tiebreaker.
“I doubt it…” Roberts said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.