Coalfield High School has suspended eight football players and head coach Keith Henry for Friday's Class 1A quarterfinal home game against South Pittsburg.
It is a self-imposed punishment following last week's on-field brawl that broke out in the first half of Coalfield's game against Lookout Valley.
With the game tied at 7 early in the second quarter, Lookout Valley quarterback Vann Scribner was met by several Coalfield defenders on a keeper and was pushed back. Tempers flared, several players threw punches and the fight escalated as Coalfield players rushed onto the field from the sideline.
Three players from each team were ejected from the game, including Coalfield senior tailback Allen Seiber, a 1,000-yard rusher. After reviewing video of the fight with TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress, Coalfield officials decided that in addition to the three players who were ejected, five other players and a manager who were involved in the fight must sit out the game and Coach Henry would be suspended for failing to maintain control along the sideline.
Per TSSAA rule, any player ejected from a football game is required to sit out the following game. When players leave their sideline to participate in a fight, the school will be fined a minimum of $250. Also in addition to sitting out Friday's game, the non-senior players will be suspended for the first five games of next season. That too was a punishment handed down by Coalfield administrators.
"Coalfield set the penalty and we agreed upon it," Childress said. "I appreciate the way that their administration handled this situation. It sets the standard for how these things need to be handled."
According to Childress, Henry will not be allowed to be on school grounds at all before or during the game.
Fifth-ranked Coalfield (10-1) defeated Lookout Valley 57-23 and will host third-ranked and defending state champion South Pitsburg (10-2) on Friday. The Pirates beat the Yellow Jackets 54-6 in last year's semifinals.
"This doesn't change anything as far as how we will prepare for this game," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "Even after having those three kids ejected last week, they still looked pretty impressive, and the kid who came in to play running back looked awfully tough.
"It's the quarterfinals, so it's going to be a tough place to go play, and now I think they will just be even more motivated for the game."
The three ejected Lookout Valley players will sit out the first game of the next sport they participate in, or the first football game of next season if they are not seniors. Childress added that according to the video, Lookout Valley had no other players come onto the field.
"According to the video, it appeared as if some of the Lookout Valley players were the aggressors, but their coaches did a fantastic job of keeping their kids on the sideline," Childress said. "You could see that on video. That's where Coalfield coaches needed to do a better job of knowing their responsibility of keeping their kids on the sideline."
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