To say this hasn’t been a great week for high school football in St. Louis would be a massive understatement. Not only was one coach fired for checking on his players through social media, but now one of the best football teams in the area decided to cancel the entire rest of the season following a scandal involving an ineligible player.
Since head coach Brandon Gregory took over the program, Cardinal Ritter College Prep has been a force. The Lions even made it to the 2018 Class 3 State Championship game last season. However, an ejection from the title game eventually became a nightmare almost a year after the loss for the St. Louis Catholic school.
In the championship, running back Bill Jackson was ejected. As a result, he was supposed to miss the first game of the 2019 season, which was against Nazareth Academy near Chicago. The Lions seemed to honor that because Jackson’s No. 4 jersey didn’t take the field, but he actually played.
Jackson wore No. 24 and played as freshman Marvin Burks. And after an investigation, Jackson’s tattoos gave it away and the Missouri football program was caught.
Ultimately, that led to Cardinal Ritter president Tamiko Armstead to cancel the entire season and fire every member of the coaching staff, according to multiple outlets.
This situation wasn’t caught immediately after the season opener, and it made the punishment that much more severe. The entire coaching staff was “permanently released” and the Cardinal Ritter football season is officially over after an internal investigation.
All Cardinal Ritter coach Brandon Gregory had to do was sit out one of his star football players and not have him switch jersey numbers. Instead, there appeared to be a big cover-up, and it ruined the entire season for a group of young men.
A mistake was made, and the Cardinal Ritter Lions’ self-imposed penalties were accepted by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSA). Additionally, the first seven wins of the season were also forfeited.
There is a lesson to be learned here, but it doesn’t change the past.
This article was originally published October 22, 2019.