The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation into a brawl that occurred during a Wekiva High School football playoff game against Mitchell High of New Port Richey, Florida.
The troubles reportedly began immediately when Mitchell players were seen waving a Blue Lives Matter flag as Wekiva players were booed when several of them knelt during the playing of the national anthem.
Various reports claim that a member of the Mitchell team hurled racial epithets at a Wekiva player, a taunt that eventually sent both teams to the field to duke it out, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
One video of the fight seems to show a referee trying to discipline a Mitchell player before the field erupts. At least two Wekiva players and one Mitchell player seem to be involved in the fight.
There is also a video of a male in street clothes stalking onto the field carrying two helmets and then throwing them at a Mitchell player lying on the field. Sentinel reporters later ascertained that the man throwing the helmets was a Wekiva student.
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“On the footage, you can see the referee trying to discipline that one [Mitchell] player who our players have told us is the one that [made racial slurs],” an eyewitness told the Sentinel. “At no point did I see any adults hitting kids or doing anything other than breaking anything up.”
One Wekiva student to the Sentinel that Mitchell players and spectators were yelling out racial slurs all during the game. “I wasn’t a part of that brawl after that game, but [we] were called [N-word] and Black boy the whole game,” Wekiva linebacker Luther Johnson said.
Mitchell coach Andrew Schmitz, though, laid the blame on the Wekiva players and told the Sentinel that as soon as the game ended, “several of their kids came running across the field, and from there it was sort of a mass hysteria of us trying to get kids separated.”
Schmitz also said that he did not hear any racial slurs, nor does has his team ever been accused of yelling such things in any previous came.
“The majority of my kids are two-year starters who have now played 23 games together, and at no point during any of those games has an opposing player or coach or referee warned us or said they’ve heard anything like that,” Schmitz said. “I feel like if it would have been happening during the game, someone would have pushed somebody or gotten in somebody’s face about it, but there was none of that.”
“Fighting and physical attacks are classified as a Level III offense by OCPS, which subjects a student to potential suspension and removal from extracurricular activities,” the Sentinel reported.
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