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Undefeated middle school football team disqualified for overage player

Ribault Middle School team recently found out their playoff dreams are over

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parents and football players at Ribault Middle School just found out their playoff dreams are over.

The undefeated football team will not be playing its big game against Mayport Middle School on Wednesday night. Parents said the opposing team discovered a player on the Ribault team is overage, and the team has been disqualified. 

Parents are stunned their undefeated season is ending like this, and they tell News4Jax the overage player is the son of one of the assistant coaches.

"I am feeling a little pissed about the whole situation," Natasha Hansell said. "I don’t think it’s fair to punish the whole team over one technical error.”  

Hansell can’t believe her sixth-grade son’s undefeated football season is over.

"The season was forfeited because there was one player who was overage...He turned 15 in May," she said.

According to Duval County middle school sports guidelines, athletes cannot turn 15 before Sept. 1 or the student becomes permanently ineligible.

Hansell says the student has been on the team all season. She heard the heartbreaking news when her son, Jeremiah, called her after school. He said his friends and teammates are very upset.

He said his head coach told the players at practice Tuesday.

Instead of Ribault Middle playing Mayport Middle, it will now be Mayport taking on Mandarin Middle School. The message was posted on the school website on game day, early Wednesday morning. 

"They shouldn’t forfeit everything they have worked so hard for. It’s not fair," Hansell said. ​​​​​​

News4Jax reached out to Ribault Middle School administration, as well as Duval County Schools, for comment. District Athletic Director Tammie Talley confirmed via text the team had an ineligible player, which caused it to be disqualified from the playoffs.

Parents tell us the Ribault Middle disqualification also started another controversy.

The runner-up from the North region, Highlands Middle, won’t be playing the East region leader, Mayport Middle. They are upset the spot was instead given to the South region leader, Mandarin Middle.