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JASON GONZALEZ/Star Tribune - South football player Jayvonne Coles works on makeup homework in hope of becoming eligible for the season.
The packet of words resting on Jayvonne Coles' lap failed to keep his complete attention. He looked up at any burst of noise made on the South High School practice field.
While his teammates prepared for the season opener, Coles remained stuck on the sideline, ineligible. The senior's attempts to earn school credits over the summer weren't enough. Makeup homework was his next attempt to earn the right to play.
"I have three packets left to do," Coles explained to South coach Lenny Sedlock. "I'm almost there."
Sedlock is no stranger to such conversations. More than the coach would like, he listens to players make excuses why they aren't eligible.
"He's done," Sedlock repeated about several of his athletes. Thinking the worst keeps the coach from more disappointment. Though he's usually right, academic appeal week at the district headquarters can produce surprises.
The Tigers lost nearly a dozen players to eligibility issues, but if just one varsity starter could find a way to return, it could change the team's outlook. Devon Lumbar was this year's surprise, regarded by coaches as one of the Tigers' best athletes. Sedlock welcomed back his wide receiver/corner back with open arms.
"I didn't think he was going to play when he didn't show up to practice," South assistant coach Chris Barrett said. Now he's a regular on the Tigers' offense and defense.
South isn't the only city school that benefitted from appeal day's gifts. Minneapolis North added a handful of players just in time for its first win against Edison.
Coles, however, is still stuck in the bleachers, three weeks into the Tigers' season.
This week's matchup: Minneapolis South (2-1) at Minneapolis Henry (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Last year's result: South won 14-6