GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - On Monday night the Goose Creek High School football team celebrated an undefeated season.
Enthusiastic fans cheered on each player as they entered a packed gymnasium. It was a stark contrast to the reaction many had following the South Carolina High School League's decision last year to remove the Gators from the state playoffs for having an ineligible player.
"In this case, we had to tell our players, ' Hey, sometimes you do the right thing and it doesn't turn out the way it should but that's a life lesson they had to learn,'" said Goose Creek football coach Chuck Reedy.
"It's been hard hearing the comments and stuff from the community, but I'm going to grow up out of it," said Justice Rogers, the Goose Creek High School football player deemed ineligible, when talking about the months following the decision.
Rogers said the team and his family have been supportive every step of the way.
"Hold your head up don't let nobody keep you from doing what you do and always move toward your goals," said Rogers, as he recited their advice.
In the months after the SCHSL decision, a community came together raising nearly $25,000 to buy each football player on the Goose Creek High School team a ring to remember a painful but unforgettable season.
"It's just our community showing us how much they love us and how much they really care about us," said Goose Creek High School senior Dylan Steele.
For Rogers, he will not soon forget this night.
"It just means a lot to me to see all of those faces in there."