BREAKING: Mustangs forfeit 3 games, drop to 4-4

DENVER — For the second time in three seasons, East Lincoln is forfeitting a win on the gridiron.

Mustangs athletic director and head football coach Mike Byus sent out a press release to local media Wednesday morning notifying them of the school's decision to forfeit its first three games of the season.

"East Lincoln High School will be forfeiting its first three football games due to a clerical error that led to the participation of an ineligible player," Byus said in the emailed statement.

Byus did not name the ineligible player in his statement saying "that would not be fair to them."

By virtue of the forfeits, the Mustangs first three opponents this season — East Gaston, Q Foundation and North Lincoln — receive victories.

East Lincoln, the defending 2A state champion, also finishes its non-conference schedule with an 0-4 record, including a 44-27 endowment loss to Forestview. The latter of those losses will not count towards playoff seeding.

"I feel terrible for all the young men who have put in many hours of hard work to achieve this level of success only to have it taken away," Byus said in the statement. "It’s very disappointing, however, the only alternative we have is to accept it and move on."

As a member of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference in 2011, the Mustangs forfeited a 56-13 victory on Sept. 16 against Bessemer City due to an ineligible player dressing out for the contest.

The Mustangs' record in the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A will remain umblemished at 4-0 with wins against Bandys (55-26), Lincolnton (28-9), Bunker Hill (14-10) and Newton-Conover (48-7).

East Lincoln, which was ranked No. 2 in this week's Associated Press 2A prep football poll, is the second area football team to forfeit games in three seasons.

Hickory High School forfeited its entire 2011 prep football season due to the use of an ineligible player.

East Lincoln hosts West Caldwell (1-7, 0-4) on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.