A brawl that seriously injured a Warren County coach after a high school football game this month was precipitated by threatening text messages to student athletes from a rival coach, Warren school officials said.
In a letter dated Oct. 20 to Judge William A. Prior Jr., the chief judge of Ocmulgee Judicial Court, Warren County school board members allege that Hancock Central assistant football coach Marleau Blount – who had been Warren County’s coach entering this season before he resigned for having players participate before completing physicals – sent “vulgar and inappropriate text messages” to Screaming Devils players during the week leading up to the Oct. 14 game.
The letter – sent from an Atlanta law firm on behalf of Warren County schools – also said Hancock County law enforcement officials targeted only Warren County people with pepper spray and were confrontational when asked for help by Warren County Principal Kaveous Preston.
The letter states that after the altercation, which resulted in serious injuries to Warren County coach David Daniel’s head, Blount sent texts saying Warren County started things. It is alleged that Warren County players went to Hancock Central’s game the week before – the Screaming Devils had no game – and were openly cheering for the Bulldogs’ opponent, Washington-Wilkes.
Reached by phone Friday, Blount said he has heard about the allegations made against him.
“I don’t know how they think that,” he said. “I’ve been asked not to say anything. I’ll let the investigation go as proceeded.
“I hate it for both of those teams.”
The letter, which was put together asking for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident, is dated the same day the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office asked the GBI to assist.
In the letter, Blount is accused of sending texts reading, “Rite [sic] keep yo [sic] ass in wc [Warren County] this weekend” and “Better stay yo [sic] stupid ass in wc [Warren County], B4 [sic] some1 [sic] get really hurt.”
Also in the letter, Warren County said it was told before the game that about 12 officers from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and city of Sparta police would be at the game. Warren County made plans to have players escorted immediately after the game’s conclusion to the locker room and then to the buses for the return to Warren County. Those plans were shared with Hancock County officials.
When Preston asked for the buses to be parked closer to the visitors’ locker room, a Hancock County law enforcement officer refused but told him, “We will keep things under control.”
After the game, the letter continues, about 30 Hancock Central players and others gathered near the visitors’ locker room, which was locked. After taunts from Hancock Central players and “Hancock students rushing several Warren County players,” Hancock County law enforcement officials got between the two groups as Warren County players defended themselves.
It was at this time, the letter states, that Warren County supporters were pepper-sprayed and Hancock Central players began to “throw helmets” at Warren County students. More pepper spray was used on Warren County, and law enforcement officers threatened to arrest Warren County people.
During the disturbance, a Warren County player was sprayed, and as he fell to his knees, a Hancock Central player used his helmet to hit him on the back of the head, giving the player a concussion. When Daniel tried to intervene, he was hit.
A Warren County player is quoted in the letter as saying, “They [Hancock County law enforcement] didn’t spray Hancock players who [were] jumping on our coach[.]
[T]hey just sprayed me”.
After Warren County got into its locker room, Preston introduced himself to members of law enforcement and asked for help getting the buses closer so the team could leave without any more issues. A Hancock County deputy said he didn’t care who Preston was, the letter stated, and both the deputy and Glenn Ingram, the chief of the Hancock County Board of Education Police Department, drew batons and swore at Preston.
The situation is still under investigation, and Hancock County school Superintendent Gwendolyn Jefferson Reeves said a news conference is planned when it’s complete. Reeves said there will be a meeting Nov. 3, when the Hancock County community will discuss how it will move forward.