Bluffton's road to the Class 4-A state championship may have just gotten a little bit easier.
The Bobcats learned Tuesday that second-round opponent Goose Creek, ranked No. 11 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings, has been disqualified from the postseason by the South Carolina High School League for using an ineligible player, associate commissioner Dru Nix confirmed to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.
The SCHSL notified Bluffton principal Mark Dievendorf of the decision Tuesday morning.
Nix said Goose Creek will appeal the ruling on in person at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Columbia.
"The school has a right to appeal," Bluffton athletics director Dave Adams said. " ... They could reverse the high school league's decision and we could be back to Goose Creek.
"We feel certain that the high school league would not have booted them unless there had been a very, very good reason."
Should the league's decision be upheld, the Bobcats will instead host Conway (5-7), who earned the 16th and final seed after finishing third in Region 6-AAAA. Bluffton coach Ken Cribb received film on the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon.
That film could be for naught should the decision be reversed, however.
"Conway only has Bluffton to prepare for and Goose Creek only has Bluffton to prepare for," Cribb said. "We don't know whether we're going to home or away and we don't know who we're going to be playing."
The Bobcats (11-1) -- who knocked off South Florence 37-13 in the first round last week -- have spent the last three days preparing for the 12-0 Gators, who have won 25 consecutive playoff games. That preparation has been temporarily scrapped for the Tigers, who run a spread offense behind Shrine Bowl quarterback Mykal Moody and a 3-3-stack defense.
The Gators are an I-formation team that operates out of 4-3 defense. Goose Creek had four different players each rush for more than 100 yards last week in their 48-7 romp of Conway.
"It's as opposite as night and day," Cribb said.
Bluffton's third-year coach isn't as optimistic as Adams in regards to Goose Creek's appeal, however.
"There's a good chance they'll win their appeal," he said. "They have it. I can't think you would appeal unless you think you have a shot. I don't know what to do, I don't know who to prepare for. Who do you prepare for?"