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Friday, November 18, 2011
Top-ranked Florida football team involved in eligibility probe

By Jim McCormick

The Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) football team, No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings, barely escaped with a 35-31 win over a 5-6 Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.) squad on Friday night in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

But a bigger problem for the Hawks could be an eligibility probe being conducted by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

The FHSAA is pursuing an investigation after Armwood requested an eligibility ruling recently for senior offensive lineman Jack Lightsey, who was allowed to play in Friday night’s game by the FHSAA. ABC Action News in Tampa Bay reported that Lightsey has been living in an apartment in the Armwood school district while his parents own homes in Orlando and Indian Rocks Beach.

A major issue at hand for the FHSAA investigation is whether false information was given on documents submitted in Lightsey’s transfer process to Armwood from Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) last spring. FHSAA spokesperson Corey Sobers told the ABC affiliate, “Armwood initially requested an eligibility ruling. Based on the information provided, we have decided to launch an investigation."

This week’s close win over a team with a losing record could very well have implications on the Hawks’ (11-0) place in the national rankings, especially given how they were dominated for much of the second half. The larger issue looms, however, as this investigation process ensues. If the FHSAA inquiry finds that regulations have been violated, there is the potential for Armwood to forfeit its season and vacate any playoff wins.