Valdosta football coach speaks out after GHSA ruling against QB

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 12:46 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - Despite the Georgia High School Association’s recent ineligibility call against Valdosta quarterback Jake Garcia, head football coach Rush Propst says the team’s biggest setback ahead of the Winnersville Classic is losing two of its five games so far to the pandemic.

Due to health concerns, both Tift County and Thomas County Central high schools canceled their Wildcat matchups.

“I understand the situation. But it’s just unfortunate for him [Amari Jones] that he could have got another 130 to 140 game reps, you know,” Propst told WCTV. “I think that if he had those two games under his belt, hopefully both wins...then he would be a more confident-ready quarterback tomorrow night.”

Backup quarterback Jones is set to start the game after Garcia, the five-star quarterback who transferred from California to Valdosta to play football, was deemed ineligible to play by the GHSA.

“We respect the GHSA: Dr. Hines and his organization,” Propst said. “But at the same time, you know, we feel like we’ve done everything right, and the kid and his parents have done everything right.”

GHSA’s initial ruling came on September 29 after the family did a sit-down interview with ESPN and questions arose regarding his move to Georgia. In the interview, Garcia’s dad said the couple legally separated to meet the GHSA transfer rule requirements.

Garcia filed for his reinstatement twice, but both requests were denied.

“It’s like anything in life that happens to you adversity-wise, you gotta take the next step,” Propst said. “So, we will. And we’ll move on. And we’ll get through this.”

The coach says, though, Garcia would not have been fit to play Friday anyway due to his injury in the first game of the season.

Propst says he’s still recovering from a partial hamstring tear (grade two) and would not be medically cleared until at least a couple more weeks.

“Maybe the 23rd if he gains mobility back,” he said. “But Jake Garcia is not healthy enough to play right now.”

Jones started Valdosta’s last two games and is 1-1.

“Hopefully adversity sometimes brings teams together,” Propst said. “We’ll see, come tomorrow night at 8 o’clock, if we’ve done enough. I think we’ve worked very hard, probably too hard to be completely honest.”

The Wildcats are 1-2 in the season.

Tickets to the Winnersville Classic are still available for purchase on Friday at the Lowndes County School Board building from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. or the Valdosta City School’s Superintendent Office from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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