HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Police, school officials and the Virginia High School League are investigating after a brawl erupted following the conclusion of Friday night’s high school football game between Hermitage and Douglas Freeman.
The fight broke out post-game as the two teams were shaking hands. People who attended the game told 8News that at least 20 players were involved in the altercation.
School officials also said that at least one player was hurt after a group of people fell on top of him. That player was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to police.
The raucous incident reportedly went on for several minutes despite repeated attempts by other players, coaches, team staff members and school administrators to diffuse the situation.
Police were called to break up the brawl, though no use of force was required by responding officers.
Police are investigating to see whether or not any charges will be filed, and school officials and the Virginia High School League are both conducting their own investigation as well.
“I’ve never in my life seen anything like what I witnessed at a high school football game ever,” said one father who attended the game.
That father, who wished to remain anonymous, said he saw two Freeman players stage a dirty takedown of an opponent.
“One of them blindsided a Hermitage kid and knocked him down and took him out at his knees,” the father said. “After that had happened, the other player from Freeman had stomped on his head.”
That player from Hermitage was rushed to the hospital with a concussion.
“It makes me feel horrible, not only as an alumni, but as a parent and as a fan,” the father added. “It looks bad not only for the schools, but it looks bad on the community.”
VHSL code states that any player involved in a fight will be suspended for at least three games.
Sunday night, principals from both schools issued a joint letter to parents addressing the situation, calling the incident ‘unfortunate, upsetting and totally unacceptable’:
A message for the communities of Hermitage and Douglas S. Freeman high schools:
By now you or your student may have heard about an unfortunate and upsetting incident that happened at the conclusion of Friday night’s varsity football game involving players from the two teams. The game ended, and as the two teams were shaking hands, an altercation occurred. Despite numerous attempts by other players, coaches, team staff members and school administrators to stop the matter from escalating, additional altercations broke out and it would be several minutes before order could be restored. We know of one player who was hurt when people from both teams fell on him from behind during the scattering that took place.
We’re writing today to let you know that we join you in considering what happened to be totally unacceptable. It was not representative of the athletic pride and tradition of our two schools, and we expect better. The administrative teams at both Hermitage and Freeman are reviewing video footage and collecting statements. Appropriate consequences will be given once the situation is fully understood. Please know that we are taking this matter very seriously.
For now, please talk to your student about what occurred, and if you have any information that you think we should know, please don’t hesitate to speak to us, or a trusted adult at our schools.
Thank you for reading,
Principal, Hermitage High School
Principal, Douglas S. Freeman High School