GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) - The Goose Creek High School football team was disqualified from the state playoffs, but they still got rings Monday night.
The player in the middle of the controversy last season sat down for the first time to talk about what happened last November. Justice Rogers went through a lot that fateful week. Known only as John Doe, his entire life's story was aired out for thousands to hear.
Rogers was found ineligible by the South Carolina High School League and it cost the Gators a run at a second state championship.
Rogers said he received tremendous support from his teammates and the community, adding that the night's festivities have a special meaning to him.
"Really, I feel like it should happen. I feel real good about it because even though we got kicked out of the playoffs, we deserve rings because we were going to make it there anyway," Rogers said.
And now the Gators are playing for another state title, this time in basketball, on Friday night. Coach Blake Hall is the coach who will get the credit for leading the team to the finals, but on the bench beside him is Rogers, serving as team manager.
"Teammates are like brothers - family. I can go to them for anything; they can come to me for anything," he said. "We hang out. Goose Creek means a lot. I can't explain how much they mean."
When the Gators' football season ended, the community stuck with Rogers. When basketball season began, Rogers stuck with the Gators.
"I'm sticking with it. I'm never going to give up. The football team got turned in for a bad reason, but the basketball team said they want to get the ring and championship," Rogers said.
Rogers wasn't able to play ball, but he couldn't give it up either. He teamed up with Hall and found a place in the organization.
"He comes in every day, runs the clock. He's part of the environment with the guys. It's about helping young people and having a family at Goose Creek," Hall said. "It's about being with a group of friends. To be with this team has had a great effect on his life."
And Rogers has been there every step of the way with his team.
"I wanted to show kids to never give up. Nobody will make you give up," he said. "With everything going on, it's excitement to me. I love the people of Goose Creek. It's the best school I've been to, period."
Rogers said he wants to bring home the championship Friday night because it would make him feel better about how things ended in the fall and be something ending the right way for Goose Creek.
"Goose Creek is the best school I've been to," Rogers said.
The football team was honored Monday night by the school and community after the SCHSL ruled to disqualify the team from playoffs because of an ineligible player. The idea for the ceremony came from members of the community who wanted to show their support and pride for the team's undefeated season.
Team members said the rally is the happy ended everyone needed.
"It means a lot to us because of how good of a season we had being taken away," said offensive lineman Trey Simmons. "We had great support from all around in our community. Glad to see they supported us and showing faith in our coach."
The rings were paid for by an independent business and the school district.
Head football coach Chuck Reedy said the rings say "undefeated."