Sunday 6 December 2020

Florida high school football game descends into a brawl after one side ran onto the field with a Blue Lives Matter flag and the other took a knee during the national anthem

 A high school football team in Florida has been fined $500 and had 10 of its players suspended after a wild brawl broke out at the end of a crunch game, with helmets being thrown, punches flying and parents jumping the fence from the sidelines and running to join in the altercation.

The state's High School Athletic Association announced their findings and penalties on Thursday, after the November 27 game.

The match saw Wekiva High, from Apopka, 10 miles north of Orlando, take on Mitchell High, from New Port Richey, 30 miles north of Tampa, in a state playoff.

Helmets were thrown and people knocked to the floor after the ill-tempered game

Helmets were thrown and people knocked to the floor after the ill-tempered game

The game was ill-tempered from the start.

Mitchell players ran onto the pitch with a Blue Lives Matter flag - a long-standing tradition, owing to the policing relatives of some former players.

Wekiva players then knelt during the National Anthem.

They said that some from the Mitchell team used racial slurs against them.

As the game drew to a close, with Mitchell having won 24-18, a fight broke out.

Helmets were hurled around the ground, and fists were flying.

No one was seriously injured, but Orange County sheriffs deputies were called to separate the sides.

Sheriffs deputies from Orange County were quick on the scene

Sheriffs deputies from Orange County were quick on the scene 

On Thursday the referees' report into the fight was obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, and the fines were announced.

'After the game was over the Mitchell team [and sideline] was basically attacked by a few of the Wekiva players, resulting in the whole team from Wekiva charging over,' according to a brief report filed by Duane Summers of the Mid Coast Officials Association of Brevard County, which supplied game officials for the contest.

'No one was ever ejected since the game was over, but my crew assisted in trying to protect and clear the situation.'

The incident took place after Mitchell took a knee on the last play of the game to run out the clock.

Tamara Baker-Drayton, principal of Wekiva, said that nine Wekiva players left the sideline area to participate in the altercation while pushing and punching, including one student wearing a black and gray hoodie.

That individual was seen on video throwing two helmets in the direction of a Mitchell player who was lying on the ground after being punched 'multiple times,' according to two sources.

Baker-Drayton said that, in the clip, a Mitchell parent can be seen on video jumping the fence and engaging in the altercation with a Wekiva player.

She also said that two individuals from Mitchell were accused of using the N-word against a Wekiva player.

Andrew Schmitz, Mitchell head coach, denied accusations of racial slurs being used by his players, saying referees did not mention that as an issue to him at any point during the game.

'There was one claim that their coaches told the officials at halftime that our kids were using racial slurs and that the officials came and warned me,' Schmitz said. 

'It just never happened. The officials never came and talked to me and brought up anything about that.' 

Schmitz insisted that his team did not instigate the brawl.

He said the game video shows one Mustangs players reaching out to shake the hand of a Wekiva player, only to have the player turn and walk away.

'And then all the sudden, one of their kids from the sideline, didn't have a jersey on, comes sprinting across the field and just attacks one of our kids,' Schmitz said.

'About three more of their kids followed, and they were all from the other sideline. 

'And then all of the sudden, the kids that were on the field, their defense, followed them over there. 

'It just turned into mass hysteria. We had kids getting helmets thrown at them.' 

After the game he tweeted praise for his players for advancing through the tournament, but did not mention the brawl.

'I don't know what to even say,' he tweeted.

'I love these kids and my coaches are my brothers. Regional final here we come.

'And it's nice to coach kids that conduct themselves with class.'

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