Tarpon Springs benefits from Gibbs forfeitures

Tarpon Springs beat Gibbs on the field last year, 14-8. The Spongers lost 20-7 in September, but Gibbs’ use of an ineligible player flipped that defeat to a victory.

The postseason is still no guarantee, but Tarpon Springs’ playoff chances received a boost when Gibbs was forced to forfeit its first seven games of the season.

The Gladiators were found to have used an ineligible “fifth-year senior,” according to a tweet from Tampa Bay Times high school sports reporter Bob Putnam, who first reported on the issue Wednesday morning.

Gibbs only won one of those initial seven games. That was its 20-7 home win over Tarpon Springs on Sept. 28.

Last week’s 26-17 upset over Lakewood gave the Gladiators the Class 5A District 9 championship, despite an unsightly 2-6 overall record.

The Lakewood win is the only game unaffected, meaning Gibbs is now 1-7 overall and 1-1 in district play. The Spartans are also 1-1 in the league and looking up new district frontrunner Tarpon Springs.

The Spongers are now 5-3 overall and 2-0 in the district. They’re on a bye this week leading up to next Friday’s showdown at Lakewood.

Tarpon Springs and Lakewood have played each of the past five years, with the Spartans winning each game by 20 points or more. Even if the Spongers aren’t able to pull off the upset, the newfound win combined with points gained, win or lose, against Lakewood and Mitchell keeps them in the running for the eighth and final Class 5A Region 3 seeding.