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Brawl halts Rollers' game with Susquenita

Posted 10/8/13

 

Mid-Penn Conference issues forfeits, approves suspensionsCoaches and officials break up a scuffle between players from Steelton-Highspire and Susquenita during a game on Friday, Oct. 4 at Susquenita Blackhawks Stadium in Cove. The game …

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Brawl halts Rollers' game with Susquenita

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The fight occurred when two opposing players blocked each other during the return, and the blocking grew into a scuffle. One Steel-High player needed stitches after he lost his helmet when he was struck by a Susquenita player.

Both teams dashed onto the field after the first players connected, but officials and coaches quickly separated the two teams and cleared the field.

Six Steel-High and three Susquenita players were ejected from the game, and both teams abruptly exited the field for halftime.

The marching band performed its show, but as the halftime clock wound down, and the crowd waited for the second half, no players or coaches stepped back onto the field. About 15 minutes passed before the public address announcer told the crowd, “The game will not be finished this evening.”  Spectators were asked to exit the stadium on their respective sides of the field.

Steel-High Coach Tom Hailey said suspending the game was “mutually agreed upon’’ between both head coaches, both athletic directors and game officials.

“The guys were somewhat disappointed because they didn’t want the game to end like this,” said Hailey. “Both teams were very unstrung. It was in the interest in the safety of the kids.”

On Monday, Oct. 7, the Mid-Penn Conference Executive Board met with Susquenita and Steel-High’s head coach, athletic director and principal to determine an outcome.

“Each school had the opportunity to give their statement on what they saw took place Friday night,” said Fred Isopi, Mid-Penn Conference executive director. “We asked questions and at the conclusion of that, we as a board deliberated, looked at some film that the schools had provided to us, and we made some recommendations.”

One recommendation by the board: a double forfeit, requiring both teams to take a loss for the game.

While the ruling is uncommon, Isopi said the board “felt it was the most fair.”

“I’ve been doing this close to 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve experienced this (situation),” said Isopi. “It’s rather unusual. I’ve never had a game that ended like that.”

Both teams were also required to provide an “action plan” by Tuesday, Oct 8 “outlining additional action that the school would feel would be appropriate,” and plans to prevent future occurrences similar to the events that took place Friday night, said Isopi.

For example, the district could consider additional punishment for players who may have participated but were not ejected by officials, he said.



After the information is reviewed, the board will either approve or reject the school districts’ plans.  The schools also have the option to appeal the board’s ruling to the PIAA District 3 Committee, but would have to act quickly since their next games scheduled for this Friday, said Dave Bitting, chairman of the Mid-Penn committee.

Hailey said his team was disappointed when he told them the ruling at practice Monday afternoon, Oct. 7.

“These guys have been playing football all their lives. They’ve seen a lot of different scenarios play out,” Hailey said. “I’m disappointed with the ruling. We have some strong feelings about it, but we’re just going to move on and work hard.”

Because of guidelines set by the National Federation of State High Schools Association, ejected players will be ineligible to play in games on Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12, Isopi said.

“We have three starters who were on that list, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Hailey said.


Six Steel-High players will be forced to sit out during their Homecoming this Friday, Oct. 11 against Middletown.


An additional unspecified number of players from each team will receive a one-game suspension that can be applied to any of the teams’ remaining regular-season games, said Isopi.

According to Hailey, “four or five” Steel-High football players received one-game suspensions that will “happen over the next three weeks (after Homecoming).”

“We’ll monitor the situation in the remainder of the season,” said Isopi. “There are no additional penalties other than the student athletes’ (one-game suspensions). We consider the matter to be closed.”

While the ruling is uncommon, the Mid-Penn executive board “felt it was the most fair,” said Isopi.

“I’ve been doing this close to 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve experienced this (situation),” said Isopi. “It’s rather unusual. I’ve never had a game that ended like that.”

Both teams were also required to provide an “action plan” by Tuesday, Oct 8 “outlining additional action that the school would feel would be appropriate,” and plans to prevent future occurrences similar to the events that took place Friday night, said Isopi.

Those plans submitted by the school districts were unanimously accepted Tuesday afternoon by the Mid-Penn Conference. The plans included the additional one-game suspensions for the unspecified number of players from each team.

The schools have the option to appeal the board’s ruling to the PIAA District 3 Committee, but would have to act quickly since their next games scheduled for this Friday, said Dave Bitting, chairman of the Mid-Penn committee.

Hailey said his Steel-High team was disappointed when he told them the ruling at practice Monday afternoon, Oct. 7.

“These guys have been playing football all their lives. They’ve seen a lot of different scenarios play out,” Hailey said. “I’m disappointed with the ruling. We have some strong feelings about it, but we’re just going to move on and work hard.”

While the team might be down, it certainly isn’t out. Hailey said he still has enough players to field a team.

“It’s just a little bump in the road, and we’ll line up on Friday and play,” said Hailey. “The team is ready to get back to work.”

The Steelton-Highspire School Board and district officials refused to comment until all decisions by the Mid-Penn Conference were officially made.

Bitting said both schools were “being very cooperative.”

Before the brawl, Steel-High (5-1) was looking to add another win, leading Susquenita 25-0.

Quarterback James Warren was sidelined with an ankle injury, but sophomore Keagan Shay stepped up to fill the role.

“For his first start, he did good … I’m proud of him,” said Hailey. “We had some new guys play tonight and they showed up.”

In the first quarter, Steel-High’s Shaheim Moody-Williams found a path between a pack of defenders and ran for a touchdown with 7:09 left.

While the Rollers scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, the defense played a huge role in the lead. Steel-High’s Jorge Caraballo was key player on defense, breaking up a long pass by Susquenita quarterback Brett Morrison. When Morrison tried to make big moves a few plays later, Caraballo was back, intercepting a pass and giving Steel-High possession.

While the Rollers were unable to capitalize on the play, the next interception would put points on the board. Steel-High’s Bryce Carter intercepted a pass intended for Dalton Jones and returned it for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead.

Susquenita couldn’t recover, and another Steel-High interception put the ball at the first-and-goal for the Rollers. Shay scored on the keeper with 7:23 left.

Susquenita tried to move on offense, but the Roller defense pushed right back. Mitchell Fillmore recovered a Blackhawk fumble and returned it for another Roller touchdown.

Susquenita stopped a 2-point conversion attempt, and the Rollers wouldn’t be able to tack on any more points before the game was suspended.

Hailey said the team will continue to work hard to prepare for the Homecoming game this Friday against Middletown.

During Tuesday’s practice, the team was in high spirits.

“For all intents and purposes, we’ve moved on. It’s part of the process, and we’ve accepted what [the Mid-Penn Committee] said,” Hailey said on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re having a great workout today, and having practices like we normally do for a Tuesday.”

“That’s the big rivalry … Middletown’s been playing well [this season],” Hailey said. “[Steel-High] will be up for a big game with challenges.”

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