Chester led Lewisville 18-8 on Friday night when the two teams’ county rivalry football game boiled over.
A scuffle with about five minutes left in the third quarter – the second such event in the game according to a Herald freelancer in the press box that night – was quickly diffused on the field, and on the Chester sideline where a group of players headed on to the field were corralled by coaches.
Lewisville had less success controlling its sideline with a group of players pouring on to the field before they were pushed back. After a period of discussion, 15 Lions – according to the Chester newspaper’s account of the event, though The Herald’s story from Friday and Chester coach Victor Floyd both said nine – were ejected from the game for coming on to the field during the altercation.
Floyd’s view of the situation was this: his outside linebacker tackled a Lewisville player and the pair got tangled up, with several others joining in. The Chester outside linebacker’s twin brother saw the group engaged and ended up hitting a Lewisville player, for which he was ejected and will be suspended.
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“And that’s it. He was the one kid that got kicked out from our side,” said Floyd. “It’s really not that big of a deal.
The kid was wrong, he knows he was wrong, and we’ll move on.
Victor Floyd, coach at Chester
Mitchell saw the situation a little differently.
“Our kids, our coaches and me especially have got to do better than that, no doubt about it,” he told the Chester News and Reporter’s Travis Jenkins. “But that was a blatant cheap shot on one of our players … the smallest player on our team. His teammates were just trying to defend him.”
All parties agreed there wasn’t much of a fight and it was quickly tempered by coaches and referees. But there were a number of ejections due to Section 5 of the Unsportsmanlike Conduct portion of the South Carolina High School League rules handbook. It states that, “Any athlete who leaves the bench area to become involved in an altercations, either physical or verbal, will be disqualified from that game and will be subject to a minimum of a next game suspension depending on his or her involvement. A school whose athletes violate this bench policy will be subject to League discipline.”
The High School League’s Skip Lax said that was a National High School Federation rule, not a regulation unique to South Carolina prep sports.
“We are aware of the incident and are reviewing video and everything,” Lax said Monday afternoon. “But it’s still under investigation.”
The ejections left Mitchell and his team in a precarious position Friday night. With just shy of 35 players on the active roster – and half of those suddenly removed from the contest, including eight of 11 defensive starters – the Lions were barely able to finish the game. Inexperienced players lined up in unfamiliar positions, which led to some brutal mismatches and some equally brutal physical consequences. Mitchell ordered his offense to take a knee during the waning minutes of the game with the hope of preventing injury and running down the clock fast as possible.
Lax expected the incident investigation to be completed by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest. If the ejections are upheld and the players are suspended, Lewisville will have a serious shortage of bodies for Friday’s game at Blacksburg. Lax said that 15 players would have to serve their suspensions at the next available opportunity – Friday’s game – and that there would be no staggering or delay of the punishments.