The two teams had a postgame football brawl at Hancock Central this past season, with Warren County head coach David Daniel getting seriously injured after a player hit him in the face. The player, whose identity was redacted from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s report, said it was in retaliation.
This season’s contest is at Warren County. Though Warren County Schools Superintendent Carole Jean Carey earlier said she would be OK with a game if there were no fans in attendance, spectators will be allowed in, she said Thursday.
Georgia High School Association Executive Director Ralph Swearngin said it’s important the two teams play.
“We’re able to use this for teaching points leading up to the game, for both schools, communities, fans and players,” Swearngin said. “We have to represent our schools with class. We’ll use it for a great teaching point I hope.”
Carey is wary about the schools playing, but she is pleased the GHSA held Hancock Central accountable for the Oct. 14 incident. The GHSA fined the school and also made the school submit a security plan for football and basketball games. According to the recently approved plan, actions include having a school resource officer escort the visiting team to the locker room. The officer will stay there until the visiting team boards its buses for departure. The Hancock Central coaches will also keep their team at midfield until they receive notice that the opposing team has entered the locker room. If there is bad weather, the Hancock Central team will stay on the field until the visiting team is off the field. Hancock Central coaches will then escort their team to the fieldhouse.
“They made a very fine plan and I have approved that plan,” Swearngin said. “They really did a great job.”
For this year’s game in Warrenton, Carey said she expects at least 20 officers to be there. She said there will be a full stadium for the showdown between the two rivals.
Carey also said her concern isn’t with the players or coaches; she’s worried about a person attending the game simply to cause problems.
“I’m just worried about how there are always some fools in this world who would love to have an incident,” she said. “We want to protect everyone from that one fool.”
Gwendolyn Jefferson Reeves, superintendent of Hancock County schools, is happy the teams are expected to play in front of fans.
“I’m excited for it and all the other schools we’ll be playing,” Reeves said. “We’re looking quite forward to it.”