Schools must forfeit games

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

As punishment for their bench-clearing brawl on Tuesday, the Lakeland and Deep Creek soccer teams will be forced to forfeit their final two games of the 2002-3 season. The agreement was made by the two school principals, and announced Thursday.

&uot;As members of the Virginia High School League (VHSL), I don’t think anything else could have been done,&uot; said Lakeland Principal Thomas Whitley. &uot;They have very specific rules and regulation, and a bench-clearing incident is something that is definitely prohibited.


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&uot;We regret ending the season early, because this is the seniors’ last chance to participate in high school soccer. But we cannot ignore the fact that this was a very dangerous situation, and it could have been a lot worse.

&uot;We have an excellent relationship with Deep Creek and all the other schools in the Southeastern District, and we have all worked collaboratively to solve our problems. I don’t think this incident is going to change our relationship with Deep Creek, which has always been a positive one.&uot;

The game, won by Lakeland 2-1, ended the game 10 minutes early.

&uot;Our students are good sports first and players second, and we did not exhibit that,&uot; said Deep Creek Principal Nathan Hardee. &uot;We were guilty of a very serious sportsmanship violation. It’s not what we expect from our students, and our season is ended as a result. Our young men have got to do a better job of understanding what sportsmanship really means.&uot;

Hardee reiterated Whitley’s opinion about the schools’ relationship. &uot;We’ve always had a good rapport with Lakeland, and we will continue to have a good rapport.&uot;

Lakeland’s Coach Paul Emler told his team of the decision late Wednesday afternoon. &uot;It wasn’t really a surprise,&uot; Emler said. &uot;We knew that you’d get a two-game suspension if you came off the bench, but we didn’t realize that the whole team would be suspended.&uot;

The Cavaliers were morose but accepting of the decision.

&uot;We shook each others’ hands, and talked about what a good season we’d had,&uot; said Emler, whose team finished the season with a 5-7-1 record (which would have been 5-5-1 but for the two suspensions). Cavalier seniors David Smith, Phillip Chavis, Brandon Burress, George Orth, Billy Higbea, Daman Stancill and Chris Joyce saw their final season end early.

Neither Emler nor Whitley were aware of any legal action pending because of the fight; several Lakeland parents have threatened litigation.

&uot;That’s their decision, and we don’t object to it,&uot; said Tom Zimorski, the VHSL director of compliance, which deals with sportsmanship issues. &uot;Local schools have the right to make that decision and take the appropriate measures without needing the VHSL.&uot;

Lakeland had to forfeit last night’s game to Nansemond River, and Wednesday’s game to Oscar Smith. Ironically, crosstown rival Nansemond River was given two free victories because of the suspensions; their final game was to be against Deep Creek.

&uot;I could look at it (as a victory), but I don’t,&uot; said Nansemond River’s Coach Marc Wenner, whose team fell 3-1 to Lakeland on April 1. &uot;We’d have had a tough time against them, but we’re still disappointed that we’re not going to get to play them.&uot; River host Granby on Tuesday.