Schools plan to tighten security following post-game brawl - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Schools plan to tighten security following post-game brawl

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) –Fitzgerald High School leaders promise tighter security at future football games after a post-game brawl last week.

Nearly two dozen officers will be at the Fitzgerald game Friday night to hopefully prevent a repeat of last Friday's game where more than 100 people got into a brawl on the football field.

Fitzgerald and Wilcox County School officials are now working together to identify people involved in the melee.

Fitzgerald is gearing up for a big football game Friday night against Tift County, but if you plan on going to the game expect to see some changes. In addition to heavy police presence, fans will have limited access to the field. After the game teams will be separated from each other.

Superintendent of Ben Hill County Schools, Nancy Whidden, says she was shocked and embarrassed after viewing video of the brawl after the Wilcox Fitzgerald scrimmage game last week. "It is disappointing when students have to see adults lose their temper," said Whidden.

But even after watching the video she says there is still no clear cut explanation as to what caused all of this to happen. "There were comments back and forth the entire time, player to player, coaches to coaches, even coaches to players..emotions got out of hand," said Whidden.

And by the end of the third quarter, tempers were heated on both sides. "There were some comments exchanged between the coaches and I think the players got involved when they were going down the line," said Whidden.

Whidden says the incident lasted less than a minute and a half, but the events that took place on the field at that time were uncalled for. "One of our coaches was hit in the back with what appeared to be a helmet. We had another coach with an arm injury, it wasn't broken but he was taken to the hospital,"she said.

More than a hundred people were on the field but those participating will be disciplined. "I saw a lot of the adults pushing players away honestly but the aggression only came from 5 to 8 players," she said.

She says this is an isolated incident and they are putting security measures in place so it does not happen again. " Student discipline and personnel that will be kept confidential and not released to the public,"

The superintendent in Wilcox County says he too plans to make security changes which they will announce next week.

Four Fitzgerald students, who were not players, got into a fight in the parking lot that night and were banned from any extracurricular activities for the year.

Fitzgerald was on the schedule to play Wilcox County in a scrimmage again next year but that game has been called off.

The superintendent says they are still talking about if the teams should shake hands at the end of the game.

The superintendent says all parents in the school system will get a phone call from the "communication crisis hotline." She says its a way to let parents know what the expectations are for players fans at the games.

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