Nixon won’t play today against Saints

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The anticipated matchup between one of the South’s highly touted quarterbacks and a Trinity Episcopal defense that has not yielded a point in two games is off.

Claiborne Academy principal Michael Hardwick confirmed Thursday Geoff Nixon had withdrawn from the Haynesville, La., private school and re-enrolled at Evangel Christian Academy.

Nixon, who transferred to Evangel from Texas in late spring and was the projected starter for the national prep power, was ruled ineligible by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Aug. 7 according to bylaw, which prohibits moves made &uot;for the purpose of creating interscholastic athletic eligibility.&uot;

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&uot;Geoff and his family decided to move back to Evangel,&uot; Evangel Principal Linda Bass said. &uot;He is enrolled at ECA as a student, and he understands that he will not be able to play ball here.&uot;

Nixon was scheduled to make his starting debut against the Saints, which have recorded 57-0 shutouts of Chamberlain-Hunt Academy and Plain Dealing Academy in the season’s opening two weeks.

Nixon led Claiborne back from an eight-point halftime deficit to a 19-15 defeat of Riverfield last week.

But those closest to Nixon said the senior, who has attracted the eye of Division I programs such as SMU, Tulane and UCLA, never was comfortable at the small MPSA Class A school.

&uot;I think he went up there because that’s what everybody else was telling him to do,&uot; said Gregg Nixon, Geoff Nixon’s uncle. &uot;It’s hard to commit to something when you’re heart is not in it. He had his heart set on playing his senior year at Evangel, and that was bashed.&uot;

LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry, who is in St. Augustine, Fla., at a meeting, was unavailable for comment.

The news was met with mixed feelings from Saints head coach David King, who said the Trinity defense had been preparing all week for the tougher test before news broke Thursday.

&uot;It’s an advantage for us because they were excited about having this guy on their team,&uot; King said. &uot;For him to back out probably let the air out somewhat.&uot;

Both teams head into today’s 7:30 p.m. showdown with 2-0 records after the Rebels knocked off Grawood 51-0 in the opening week.

Hardwick surmised Nixon’s departure might have been due to the one-hour commute the senior made from his Shreveport home to Claiborne each day and the fact that the only tie to the community Nixon had were his fraternal grandparents.

&uot;They were looking to go somewhere under the radar, and we offered them a low key option,&uot; Hardwick said. &uot;They thought they had made the right decision, but I guess they’ve changed their mind.&uot;

He added: &uot;It was an unfortunate situation that he was ruled ineligible by the (LHSAA). A lot has happened that he doesn’t have control over.&uot;

King said Nixon’s absence doesn’t change the fact that Claiborne, one of only three Class A teams to down the Saints in the last three years, remains a viable playoff team.

Josh Stanley was a two-year starter before Nixon came onto the scene.

&uot;I feel for the kids on the Claiborne team,&uot; King said. &uot;These are 17-year-old kids we deal with in our profession.&uot;