AHSAA suspends 19

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Straughn head football coach Trent Taylor (center) talks to his players after practice Wednesday night. Taylor said there wasn’t any fighting during the altercation between his players and W.S. Neal last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Nearly 20 Straughn and W.S. Neal players have been suspended for leaving the bench area during an altercation in last week’s region game.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association’s rules prohibit players not currently involved in play from stepping onto the field.

A violation results in ejection and a two-game suspension. The fine is $300 per ejection. Each fine can be reduced to $100 if those involved complete a sportsmanship seminar.

Straughn coach Trent Taylor told The Star-News Wednesday afternoon that seven of his Tigers were suspended, and The Press-Register reported Wednesday night that 12 Blue Eagles were suspended .

With 3.6 seconds left in the third quarter of last Friday night’s game and Straughn leading 36-14, an altercation arose between players from both teams, which was quickly dispelled by team coaches and support staff.

SHS head football coach Trent Taylor and principal, Shannon Driver, met with AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese on Wednesday to learn of the team’s suspensions.  W.S. Neal head football coach Doug Hoehn and principal Patty Frazier were at the meeting, too.

Taylor wanted to be clear that there wasn’t any fighting on the field.

“That’s one thing coach Savarese said (Wednesday),” Taylor said. “(Saverese) said he keeps hearing the word ‘fight.’ There was no fight.

“I’ve only been in five or six in my life and I’ve not been in a fight where I didn’t try to punch somebody or somebody was steadily punching me,” he said. “There were never any punches thrown. So, I don’t think we can fairly say there was a fight.”

Taylor said on the night of the game, there were five of his players ejected from the game. From video evidence, the number increased to seven because there were two players the officials didn’t see, he said.

“Obviously, they were two that didn’t get very far out there (on the field),” Taylor said. “They (W.S. Neal) had many, many more (on the field).”

Taylor added that it was “unfortunate” for those players on the Eagles’ football team who were also caught in that situation.

When asked who who were ejected from the game are, Taylor wouldn’t give any names.

He said, “they know who they are.”

Previously, The Star-News reported that Chase Short was ejected from the game, but Taylor said Wednesday that Short was not among the seven players suspended.

Short was on the kickoff team and Taylor said — from his version of events — his kicker and quarterback did everything “he could to avoid the situation.”

“They had cross-blocked all night long,” Taylor said. “To me, it looked like it was obvious the ball was in the end zone when it came off of his foot. They sent somebody at him hard and maybe the kid was frustrated about the way the game was going. He went to block him, which was fine the first time and Chase kind of defended himself and put his hand up. He came at him a third time and on the fourth time, Chase ducked and flipped him.

“I’m sure if I’m on their sideline and I’m oblivious, all I do is look and see ‘thwp,'” he said. “You know, if one of my guys is getting flipped, I’m going to react.”

Taylor said the seven who are suspended for two games this season are “disappointed.”

“Heck, I want them to be,” he said. “They want to play. I guess, if there’s an unfortunate thing about it, only one of them is a senior. It was just one of those things. Football is a very violent game and when you’ve got that, then you expect kids to play with a violent nature. That’s the nature of the game. I think sometimes when that happens, then there’s going to be some things that happen because of that.”

Taylor said the players are still focused on the task at hand as they visit Southside-Selma tomorrow night in region action.

“I think our kids are focused,” he said. “These other kids, they’re very disappointed and they’re very sorry for what happened. In the heat of the moment, sometimes kids are going to do things, just like adults would do. If we had just paused just for a second to think, we wouldn’t have done it. But, unfortunately, they did and nobody is more remorceful then those seven kids.

“Probably, to be honest, I should’ve done a better job of explaining to them the repercussions of something like that,” he said. “If there’s a message to all of those other coaches is that to make sure that your kids are aware (of the rules).”