Among penalties, VHS, WC won’t play this yearSuspension ends season

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In the end, it was the numbers that called Vicksburg High’s 2012 football season, and it will be the first time in 32 years that crosstown rivals VHS and Warren Central don’t meet on the gridiron.

Too many players were suspended by the Mississippi High School Activities Association after an on-field brawl at Memorial Stadium Friday to have enough to compete in the last two games, Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said after accepting the penalties.

The team has 57 players on the roster. Neither Swinford nor MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said exactly how many players were suspended. Hinton said the MHSAA was still looking at the game film to determine individual player suspensions.

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Swinford said “less than 10” Vicksburg players remained on the bench during the fight, which would put the number of suspended players at more than 40. Murrah had between 15 and 20 players suspended.

Swinford said the penalties meted out call for players who left the bench to be suspended for one game, and those involved in the fight for two games.

“We have our sanctions, we’re going to take them and move forward,” Swinford said. “I’m in full agreement with the MHSAA decision rendered as it concurred with our own investigation. I have no plans to appeal the MHSAA decision. I’m disappointed that our players will not be able to finish out their season, but they must accept there are consequences for their actions.”

The Gators will forfeit their final two games, against Warren Central and Clinton; will be placed on probation; and will finish the season with one win and 10 losses. Murrah will play its last two regular-season games, but will be ineligible for the playoffs. Both schools were fined $500 apiece and their football teams were put on probation by the MHSAA through the 2013-14 school year.

Murrah was leading 57-42 Friday during the Gators’ homecoming game when Vicksburg attempted an onside kick and a brawl ensued, clearing both benches. The game was called.

Vicksburg coach Tavares Johnson Sr. collapsed after being struck by a helmet. According to footage obtained by The Vicksburg Post, a helmet wielded by a Vicksburg player struck Johnson before he was taken to River Region Medical Center, where he remained overnight and released the next day. Most helmets weigh about 4 pounds.

Johnson, who is recovering from his injuries, said Tuesday his team’s mood is somber.

“They wish they could take it back, but there are consequences,” Johnson said. “We made a mistake as a football team and we’re going to learn from it. We’re going to move forward.”