Madison Parish hopes for return of home games Decision stems from on-field donnybrook on Sept. 3

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TALLULAH — Madison Parish school superintendent Samuel Dixon said he remains optimistic that an appeal filed Friday to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will be successful and allow the Jaguars to play another home football game this season.

Last Thursday the LHSAA, at a hearing in Monroe, stripped Madison Parish of its three remaining home games because of the incident that broke out between the Jaguars, visiting Wossman High School, and spectators both in the stands and in a car at the old Tallulah High School football stadium on Sept. 3.

“We feel we have some legitimate reasons for appeal,” Dixon said in an interview Tuesday at his office in Tallulah. “We expect a fast process and hopefully a positive outcome. We want to create a safe environment for future contests. We’re optimistic about the process.”

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The incident

With little over 4 minutes to go in the season opener, Wossman was in the final stages of a 70-6 victory over the Jaguars.

Madison Parish coach Walter Dailey recounted what started the brawl that involved up to 20 players and included one Madison Parish player, Courtney Perkins, who used his helmet to swing at the Wossman players. He hit Wossman sophomore Terraine Ambers.

“One of their running backs was running near our sideline, and he got hit and it went out of bounds. Well, there was one of their guys still blocking our guy, Mario Farris. That guy gave Mario a cheap shot to the face,” Dailey said.

What happened next was described by Madison Journal publisher P.J. Tracy, who was there covering the game.

“I’ve seen hockey fights, I’ve seen a bad fight at a basketball game, I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Tracy said. “You know usually there is a buildup to something like this, like a lot of chirping going on between the players. But there wasn’t here. Madison had gotten some personal fouls, but that was about it. Then, boom. Suddenly there were fights in the stands, and fights all over the field. The kid with the helmet flying was just one fight. There were at least 15 to 20 kids fighting and this doesn’t include what was happening in the stands.”

Madison Parish Sheriff Office spokesman Major Neal Horath said reports of the fights he got were unbelievable.

“It was a chaotic scene. We had officers there as part of the game security along with the Tallulah Police Department. They would try to deal with the kids, but there were several fights going on,” Horath said.

During the melee, Ambers was struck by Perkins. Ambers had to be hospitalized after the game and was released the next day.

“We felt bad the kid (Ambers) got hurt,” Dailey said. “One of my guys hurt his jaw in the fighting.”

Also, game official Johnny Pippins hurt his hand while trying to break up players.

Once some order was restored, the game was called at the 4:05 mark and the scene got even weirder, says Tracy.

“Wossman had gathered at midfield to do their post-game chat and see (Ambers) off,” Tracy said. “At that point, a woman in a vehicle, drove through the open gate near the (west) end zone and drove her car onto the field. Drove it right there to where the ambulance was trying to load the kid who had been hit by the helmet. The cops immediately went to deal with her. Apparently, she was there to pick up a man who had been hurt in one of the fights in the stands. He had broken his leg, either in a fight or had been pushed, I still haven’t gotten that part cleared up. But, there she was. In a car on the field.”


Football at Madison Parish has been a struggle lately. The Jaguars were 0-9 last year, the second year for then-coach Toriano Wells, who was a former assistant coach at Vicksburg High School. In Wells’ first year, the Jaguars were 2-8, and one of the wins was a 7-6 victory at the end of the season against Wossman.

For two years, Wells was waiting on the new school and football facilities to be finished. The planned facilities feature a new football stadium, a fieldhouse and a fully-stocked weight room. It would be arguably the best facility in the region, rivaling any in Warren County or the river parishes in Louisiana.

The new school opened this fall, but Wells was replaced before the start of preseason practice. Dailey, who took over for Wells, said his young team has had its problems.

“We have a problem tackling and catching,” Dailey said Tuesday at the school’s new fieldhouse.


Dixon would love nothing more than to have the appeal succeed in order to restore at least one of the school’s remaining home games and then, get the whole incident behind them.

“Something like this can happen anywhere,” Dixon said. “Even having a vehicle come on to the field. Unfortunately, it happened to us. It’s been difficult.”

Had the Jaguars been able to play at their new stadium, surrounded by chain-link fencing, the car would nor been able to get on the field there.

“We had known before the season that we probably wouldn’t be able to play at our new field. The landscapers had told us the grass wasn’t ready for play,” Dixon said. “They’ve since reseeded it, so nothing is definite.”

The LHSAA ruled that there will be no home games for the Jaguars this season.

“Right now, we just hope to have the appeal be successful. Any way it comes, we’ll bounce back from this,” Dailey said.

The LHSAA’s executive committee said in its statement that school officials “showed a complete lack of administrative control.”

LHSAA officials were not available for comment.

Also, Perkins was suspended from all LHSAA activities for one year and must undergo psychological evaluation. Two Wossman players were suspended for two games. Dailey and Wossman coach Dale Zimmerman must attend a clinic in Baton Rouge on Sept. 22.

Since the game, Madison Parish lost 54-0 to Port Gibson last Friday. The game was played at Blue Waves Stadium in Port Gibson. The Jaguars (0-2) will travel to Delhi this week. The Jaguars’ next home date was set for Sept. 24 against Grambling Lab. They were also slated to host Carroll on Oct. 15 and Caldwell Parish on Oct. 22.

Dixon said while he respects the LHSAA’s decision, there are aspects of it that are subject to appeal.

“Like I said, this was an unfortunate situation, but our appeal has been submitted and we’re optimistic about the process,” Dixon said. “We hope to be able to host Grambling Lab on the 24th.”