VHS players suspended, but team allowed to play, following homecoming fight

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Vicksburg High’s football team will be short-handed for its next game, but it will be able to play it.

Vicksburg Warren School District athletic director James Lewis said Tuesday that several VHS players will be suspended for its next game, but the school and team avoided the worst penalties following a fight against Yazoo City last Friday.

Lewis declined to name the suspended players. Vicksburg had five players ejected, and Yazoo City had several as well, for their roles in the fight during the third quarter of last week’s game at Memorial Stadium.

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Under Mississippi High School Activities Association rules, an ejection carries with it an automatic one-game suspension.

A number of Vicksburg players also left the bench area as they rushed to help their teammates, which could have led to other suspensions or sanctions for the team and school. The team will not face those penalties, however. The fight occurred on Vicksburg’s sideline, just outside of the bench area that ends at the 15-yard line.

Vicksburg High has an open date this Friday, and its next game is the MHSAA Region 2-6A opener on Oct. 6 at Neshoba Central. The suspended players will be eligible to return Oct. 13 against Warren Central.

“I don’t know if you’d call it good news, but we will not be losing any games. Just those players that were involved will have to sit out for one game,” Lewis said.

Lewis added that other “in-house” disciplinary measures are being taken by the school district, in addition to a larger review of the entire night.

Following the game, two fights outside the stadium led to one arrest and caused fans to run through the stands in panic. Neither of those fights were related to the one on the field.

“We’re doing a lot of stuff in-house. Everything from emergency action plans to security, to the way we carried ourselves. It’s a lot of things,” Lewis said. “We want people to know they’re safe if they go to a game. All of us are embarrassed that it did happen, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Vicksburg’s homecoming dance was canceled because of the incidents. It has been rescheduled for this Friday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. in the VHS gym. Tickets are available through GoFan.co.

The fight in last Friday’s game started when Yazoo City offensive lineman Jabarius Oliver yanked Vicksburg defensive back Michael Johnson down hard by his facemask at the end of an interception return midway through the third quarter.

As Vicksburg High defensive lineman Demarcus Johnson confronted Oliver about the play, Yazoo City senior running back Cordero McBride ran up from behind and shoved Johnson in the back, knocking him to the ground.

That sparked a shoving match between about a dozen players, which then escalated into several brief one-on-one fights.

The fracas was quickly broken up, but not before players on both sides threw punches at each other.
Moments later, as officials met with head coaches Justin Washington of Yazoo City and Christopher Lacey of Vicksburg, Washington requested that that game be called to avoid any further incidents.

Vicksburg led 35-0 when the game was halted with 5:07 remaining in the third quarter, and was awarded the victory.

On Sunday, McBride issued a public apology for his role in the fight.

“I would like to apologize for what happened at Vicksburg last night. I did not mean for it to go that way,” McBride said in a short Facebook video posted by his mother, Christy Stiff. “I was just being a team player. My emotions were running high. We were losing pretty bad. I will work on myself and it won’t happen again.”

In the post, Stiff also apologized on behalf of her son. She said she talked to him about the incident for four hours after the game. She described her son as a “good child” who made a mistake.

“On behalf of my son me as a mother felt it was needed cause so many people judge and don’t know how disciplined I raised my children …. I talked to him and explained that you can do good all your life but people will see you do one thing bad and hang it over your head for life,” Stiff wrote. “I don’t have to keep screaming my son back ground because it shows when I go places they tell me he’s a good child good grades GPA and never smoked nor did drugs. I don’t get calls from the school I don’t get come pick my son up he has been suspended … (I know) there going to be a change.”

After the game, Lacey said he was disappointed in his team as well.

“It was a good night, homecoming, we were playing a good game … it’s just unacceptable. We’ve got to be better. It is unacceptable how all this unfolded,” Lacey said last Friday. “We haven’t had anything like that happen in five, six years. We’ve been doing a good job with the discipline. Even if somebody else sparks it, we’ve got to have enough composure to not do that. I’m just very disappointed in the whole situation. I don’t have any control over their team, but I’m very disappointed in my team.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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