Cardinal Ritter College Prep’s football team in St. Louis is one of the top small school programs in the country, but will forfeit its entire season due to a wild scandal that involves sneaking a star player into the season opener when he was supposed to be suspended, a story broken by STLhighschoolsports.com.
Junior running back Bill Jackson was ejected from the Class-3A championship game in 2018 and, by rule, was to be ineligible for the first game of the 2019 season. In his stead, a freshman by the name of Marvin Burks wearing No. 24 rushed for 109 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown, in Cardinal Ritter’s 32-21 win over Nazareth, the defending Class 7A champ in Illinois and one of Chicago’s top football teams. The next week, Jackson was back and ran for 147 yards against Lutheran North in another win, the second of seven straight to open the season.
The sudden disappearance of Burks after a big game as a freshman may have raised some eyebrows, but it was a review of the video from that first game that led to the discovery that Burks just so happened to have the same distinctive tattoos on his biceps as Jackson and even led the team’s pregame hype huddle the same way Jackson does, as found by STLhighschoolsports.com. The best part of the entire story might be the quotes the coach and player both gave following the Week 2 game about him sitting out the previous week.
After rushing for 147 yards against Lutheran North, Jackson and Gregory told STLhighschoolsports.com that Jackson sat out Week 1.
“Watching last week, it wasn’t fun at all,” Jackson said. “It gave me a spark.”
Gregory said, “He earned it, he deserved it. It was his time to play ball.”
The school investigated the allegations and found them to be true, and chose to cancel the remainder of the season and fire the entire coaching staff that allowed it to happen, including head coach Brandon Gregory, who you can see below in an interview trying to explain the situation.
It is a truly bizarre way for one of the nation’s top programs — they were the top-ranked small school in the country by MaxPreps — to have its season end and for a coach that had so much success to find himself out of a job. Playing someone in a different jersey has long been a joke made when a key player gets suspended, but to actually go through with that plan is so bold and just begging to get caught, particularly when you let that player continue in a leadership role in pregame and when he has distinctive tattoos that are visible.