Warren County football coach David Daniel denies claims in a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report that he initiated the incident that directly led to his being injured during the Oct. 14 football brawl between his team and Hancock Central.
In the 1,000-plus page report, which The Augusta Chronicle reviewed, a Hancock Central player admitted hitting Daniel, but only after Daniel hit first. Another Hancock Central player, Justin Rocker, said Daniel pushed his teammate three times and hit him in the face. The Hancock Central player – the one who admitted hitting Daniel in the face with his fist – then hit back, Rocker said.
“No, no,” Daniel said Thursday when asked if he had pushed anyone first.
Daniel, who suffered damage to his eye socket and had metal plates inserted in his head, said his health is improving but his head bothers him by the end of the day. The coach was adamant his health and the postgame incident wouldn’t bring an end to his coaching career.
“I’ve never been a quitter,” Daniel said. “I ain’t going to quit now. We can’t teach our kids that.”
Warren County Schools Superintendent Carole Jean Carey said she is thinking about having what she describes as co-head coaches for the upcoming season. She said she is hoping Daniel will lead the defense while another would handle offense and organizational details. Carey said she is meeting with the board Monday night and will present this plan.
Daniel said he plans to file a civil suit over the incident. A Hancock County grand jury on Jan. 25 decided not to indict anyone in the incident.
The identity of the player who admits to hitting Daniel has not been revealed and is redacted from the report.
However, according to the GBI report, a handful of Hancock Central players were not allowed to play in the team’s next game against Wilkinson County.
The reasons given were for involvement in the brawl; failure to show up to practice during the week – Hancock Central had no school that week; suffering an injury in the fight; or for a separate incident.
Also, Hancock Central defensive coordinator Marleau Blount, who resigned as Warren County’s head coach before the season started after allowing players to practice before they completed physicals, said he hopes to get his good name back after attention over an exchange of texts about the incident.
In the report, Warren County player Devarius Davis initiated contact the night of the game over his unhappiness about what he considered Blount’s lack of intervention in the fight. Blount answered the texts, saying he had nothing to do with the fight. Davis later apologized to Blount through Facebook and text.
Both teams also claimed the other was more at fault for the verbal confrontation at Washington-Wilkes the week before the fight. Some Warren County players and coaches traveled to the game to watch Hancock Central play. Antonio Simmons was arrested in the incident. The GBI report said Simmons was not affiliated with either team.
As for the fight the next week, both teams say the other one was to blame for the brawl, arguing self-defense. Both teams also say the other threw the first helmet.
Other discrepancies in the report include those involving law enforcement officers.
Warren County High School Principal Kaveous Preston said a Hancock County deputy yelled at him and removed his “billy club” as Preston approached. Hancock County Schools Police Chief Glen Ingram and deputy Patrick Williams deny they or anyone else drew a baton against Preston.
Warren County also alleged its team was specifically targeted by the deputies’ pepper spray. Law enforcement denies this, and Hancock Central players say they were sprayed, too.