Pinecrest Academy won’t make its first appearance in the Georgia High School Association football state playoffs this year.
The GHSA turned down Pinecrest’s appeal on Wednesday afternoon to count its 30-20 win against Lakeview Academy on Sept. 21.
Pinecrest failed to reach the Class A playoffs by less than one point (0.79 points) and completed its season ranked 18th out of the Class A Private Power Rankings. Only the top 16 teams qualified for the postseason.
The GHSA ruled in September that games against opponents with a non-region schedule would not count toward the region standings or power rankings, changing its original stance in April that games would not count in the region standings, but would count in the power rankings system.
Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said on Wednesday that the Paladins would have qualified for the playoffs if their win against Lakeview, which played a non-region schedule this season, had counted.
"Honestly, we’re not happy with [the ruling]," Winter said. "We’d like to see every game counted and it be determined by the play on the field."
Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the GHSA, said Pinecrest was one of seven schools to appeal, but the GHSA ruled against every school on the issue.
"We realized that the previous system violated our by-laws," Swearngin said.
"You can’t use games against schools with a non-region schedule. It is what it is. … We couldn’t wait until next year."
"When we [changed the system] in September, most schools didn’t see this as a problem. Nobody was alarmed. It wasn’t until last week when we started hearing complaining."
Swearngin also wasn’t so sure that the Paladins’ victory over Lakeview would have vaulted them into the playoffs if it had counted.
"Pinecrest wasn’t the only school impacted by this," Swearngin said. "If you do the math, other schools that played teams like that would get points.
"The rule is in place so teams don’t play schools who know [the opponent isn’t] going to win. That’s the reason most schools play non-region schedules; they can’t compete."
Pinecrest already has signed a contract with two schools that compete with a non-region schedule next season. If the Paladins break their contracts, they must pay a fine and additional fees.
"We hope [the GHSA takes] a look at the process and makes it more equitable," said Winter, who broke the news to his players on Wednesday. "They wanted to keep playing. Football has found a new life at Pinecrest. We just want every game to count."