Beaufort High School football coach Mark Clifford would not have picked up the tackling dummy, in hindsight.
But he used the prop for a drill on the first day of practice, in violation of S.C. High School League rules, and the Eagles will forfeit practice Thursday and pay a $200 fine.
"I did it in the spirit of the rules," Clifford said. "I'm remorseful. I hate that I picked the dummy up. But the spirit of the rule is no contact, and we did not make contact. It's only supposed to be over the dummies or around the dummies. I went under the dummy."
Beaufort County School District officials became aware of the possible violation because of a photo that ran in The Beaufort Gazette, showing Clifford holding a padded dummy off the ground and running back Josh Roberts having just run underneath. Rules don't allow the use of hand shields, arm shields or stand-up dummies during the first two days of practice. Dummies can be used on the ground.
Clifford held the dummy out for running backs to run toward and pulled it away like a bullfighter as they approached. He said he should have used his arm or something else in its place.
The High School League was notified Monday and ruled Wednesday. Clifford is responsible for the fine, McCord said.
"We're going to take our medicine and move on," Beaufort High athletics director Jerry Linn said.
Clifford said High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton told him players could lift weights and run Thursday. The coach said he would try to come up with something competitive the team could do together without it constituting practice.
The Eagles practiced Wednesday morning on the first day full contact was allowed. Beaufort High plays host to Battery Creek High School in a scrimmage Friday and next week travels to West Ashley and a jamboree at Bluffton High School.
"Ol' Mama Cliff said everything happens for a reason," Clifford said. "Maybe we need this rest to get us (ready)."