The Elkins High School football team's players and coaches were thrilled Monday by the news that star running back L.J. Lawrence has been declared eligible to play, and that the team's seven victories on the season have been restored.
"This is very exciting news for our team, the school and the community," Elkins coach Greg Hott said Monday.
"I am happy to work with two people: Dr. James Phares and Mr. (David) Fincham," Hott said of the Randolph County superintendent of schools and the EHS principal. "They always believed in us and they never quit, I really appreciate all their hard work they had in this."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Edgar Kelley
Elkins High?School’s L.J. Lawrence was declared eligible to play on Monday, and the team’s seven wins were restored by officials.
"I'm very happy we got this resolved," Elkins athletic director Todd Price said. "We knew we did the right thing, and I give credit to Dr. James Phares for never giving up and fighting until the very end."
Elkins is currently 7-2 overall and No. 8 in Class AAA. The Tigers have one game left and will play Lewis County Friday night at Wimer Stadium,
"This game Friday is big," Hott said. "We might not be able to practice until Thursday due to weather, so we will wait and see what happens."
The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission reversed its decision Monday, wiping out the Oct. 24 ruling that had stripped Lawrence of his eligibility and the team of its victories.
The WVSSAC issued a news release Monday announcing the ruling reversal, stating that it received an inquiry concerning the eligibility of Lawrence, and in accordance with normal procedure, the commission referred the matter to the EHS administration.
According to the release, the WVSSAC requested the West Virginia State Board of Education to review the federal law cited by Phares, and concluded that under the facts and circumstances of the case, Lawrence is eligible.
On Friday, Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares instructed Fincham to place Lawrence back on the eligible roster and to allow him to practice.
"I want to thank everyone who was behind us. They were really supportive," Hott said.
"The community was great and we had a great respose with all of the blogs and Facebook stuff."