May 16, 2021 17:07

Football brawl: Players fight after a team flew a ‘back the blue’ flag

Joey Knight

Tampa Bay Times

The Florida High School Athletic Association reportedly has fined Apopka Wekiva and Mitchell high schools $500 and suspended 10 Wekiva players in the wake of an altercation following Mitchell’s 24-18 playoff victory Friday.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the game officials’ report of the incident indicated Wekiva’s players initiated the confrontation. Video footage from the incident posted on social media showed someone from the Wekiva side — not in uniform — flinging two helmets toward a Mitchell player on the ground.

Nine of the 10 suspended players must sit out five consecutive interscholastic contests, the Sentinel reported. The other has been suspended from competition for 12 months. Additionally, Wekiva may not participate in a spring game or jamboree next spring, and each of its coaches and players must complete an approved sportsmanship course no later than Feb. 1.

Mitchell’s fine stems from unsportsmanlike conduct, but the documents revealed no other punishment against the Mustangs, the Sentinel reported. Pasco County school district spokesman Steve Hegarty told a Tampa Bay Times reporter on Tuesday that Mitchell was not the aggressor in the incident.

The report, filed by Duane Summers of the Mid Coast Officials Association of Brevard County, indicated that at the end of the game Mitchell’s team “was basically attacked by a few of the Wekiva players, resulting in the whole team from Wekiva charging over.”

Wekiva principal Tamara Baker-Drayton confirmed in an e-mail to the association that nine Wekiva players left the sideline to participate in the altercation, the Sentinel reported. Baker-Drayton also wrote that all Mitchell players left the sideline area, including seven who participated in the melee.

She also wrote that a Mitchell parent can be seen on video jumping the fence and engaging in the altercation with a Wekiva player. Two Mitchell players are accused of using racial slurs against a Wekiva player, according to Baker-Drayton.

Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz has denied those accusations.

“As far as the racial slurs are concerned, I hate calling anyone a liar, but my response to that is, most of my kids are two-year starters,” he said Tuesday.

“This group of players has played 20-something games together. A lot of the teams that we have played over the last couple of years are coached by friends of mine. If any of our kids would’ve said anything like that during any game, I would’ve heard about it and I would’ve dealt with it.

“There has not been a single accusation against any of these Mitchell High School football players that are currently on the roster.”


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