GBI report: Hancock Central player admits to hitting Warren County, but in retaliation

Each team claims retaliation in postgame football brawl
A Hancock Central player admitted to hitting Warren County coach David Daniel in the face but said the coach punched him first, according to a GBI report.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — In the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s report on the Oct. 14 Hancock Central-Warren County postgame football fight, a Hancock Central player admits to hitting Warren County head coach David Daniel, but only after Daniel hit first.

The report, which is more than 1,000 pages, is full of conflicting statements.

The differences include each team’s saying the other instigated the oral and physical confrontations that escalated into helmets being used as weapons.

Witnesses on both sides say the other team threw or tossed the first helmet.

In the report, Daniel is listed as sustaining significant damage to his eye socket, Warren County player Daniel Spence a concussion and Hancock Central player Dontarius Brookins a laceration to his forehead.

The identity of the Hancock Central player who admitted to hitting Daniel is repeatedly blacked out in the report. The player, in the report described as playing mostly at defensive tackle, said both teams were trash-talking and that a fight broke out after Warren County threw the first helmet. Warren County players, however, say Hancock Central tossed the first helmet.

After Hancock County sheriff’s deputies used pepper spray to separate the teams, the Hancock Central player said he was walking away when he was hit on the back of his head with a helmet. He rejoined the brawl and was fighting with a Warren County player when, he said, Daniel approached him and punched him three times – twice in the chest and once in the face. Then he describes punching Daniel twice in the face before the coach fell.

A second Hancock Central player, Justin Rocker, said Daniel pushed the Hancock Central player three times and hit him in the face. The Hancock Central player – the one who admitted hitting Daniel – then punched back, Rocker said.

Hancock Central head football coach Zackery Harris asked the Hancock Central player whether he hit Daniel, and the player said, “Yes sir, I hit him, yes sir.” The player denied using a helmet, instead holding up a fist when asked what he used to hit Daniel.

In the report, Daniel said the first indication of a problem was when he saw Spence lying there and then Spence getting hit with a helmet on the back of the head by a Hancock Central player. Spence said he had been sprayed and fell before being hit in the back of his head.

Warren County player, Ricardo Jones, said he saw Spence get hit as helmets were flying everywhere. Jones said he was handcuffed for a while after he fought back by striking an opposing player with a helmet, but was released a short time later.

Daniel said he was about 10 feet away from Spence when Spence was hit. Daniel then said, “What are you doing?” to a Hancock Central player and moved toward the player. The coach said he doesn’t remember what happened after that.

Harris, the Hancock Central coach, told the GBI that after the game he held his players on the field to give the Warren County players time to get into their locker room. By the time he arrived at the scene, helmets were flying.

He realized the Warren County players couldn’t get into their locker room, so he unlocked the door for them.

The previous week, some Warren County players attended Hancock Central’s game at Washington-Wilkes. Afterward, Warren County and Hancock Central players exchanged taunts and had to be separated. Considering what had happened the week before and the locked locker room, it was “the perfect storm,” Harris said.

Staff Writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this article.

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