Lithonia and Stone Mountain were found guilty of using ineligible football players by the Georgia High School Association on Thursday.
The two DeKalb County schools must forfeit a total of eight wins — knocking both out of playoff contention. Also, Lithonia head coach Earl White and Stone Mountain assistant Clifford Browning were “relieved of their coaching duties” related to the violations, according to DeKalb County spokesman Dale Davis.
“We take great pride in our athletic programs and are very disappointed to learn of these violations,” wrote Davis in a press release. “All appropriate steps are being taken to correct the violations and prevent this from happening again.”
The forfeits turned out to be good news for Miller Grove and Chamblee, which will play each other on Friday for Region 6-AAAA’s fourth and final berth in the state playoffs. Southwest DeKalb, Marist and Tucker — none of whom were affected by the forfeits — have already qualified for the postseason.
Prior to the GHSA ruling, Stone Mountain was on the brink of qualifying for the playoffs under first-year coach Dante Ferguson with a 6-3 record. Stone Mountain played one ineligible player and will forfeit wins over Miller Grove, Forsyth Central, Lakeside and North Springs — dropping the team’s record to 1-8.
Stone Mountain retained its 20-19 win over Cedar Grove on Aug. 28 because it said the ineligible player did not play in that contest.
Meanwhile, Lithonia was found guilty of using two ineligible players and will forfeit wins over Forsyth Central, Chamblee, Miller Grove and Lakeside, along with paying a $700 fine to the GHSA. Lithonia’s record goes from 4-5 to 0-9 under White, who was in his second year as coach.
Also, the Lithonia-Stone Mountain game on Sept. 25 will go down as a rare “double forfeit” — 0-0 final score, with both teams awarded losses in the head-to-head competition.
Neither White nor Ferguson could be reached for comment, while DeKalb County athletics director Ron Sebree declined to speak.
The GHSA and DeKalb County officials did not reveal the names of the ineligible players.
Anyone have any inside info?