Melee leads to early end to Palm Beach Central football game
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
by Steve Dorsey
Northeast was leading 22-14 with 1:59 remaining in the first half when a player from Palm Beach Central threw a punch at a Northeast player after a play had been whistled dead by officials in front of the Northeast sidelines.
Several players from both teams left the sidelines and ran onto the field, but game officials, coaches and players quickly intervened before a fight escalated.
After order was restored, game officials huddled at midfield with administrators from both schools, and after a 15-minute discussion, it was announced that the game would not continue. Central players were ushered to their locker room to allow Northeast players to board their bus for the trip back to Broward County.
"It was a mutual decision by both schools for the safety of the kids," Palm Beach Central Athletic Director Ron Matella said of the decision to call the game.
Matella said that possible ejections, and thus suspensions, could be forthcoming after game officials submit their report to the Florida High School Athletic Association. An ejection results in an automatic one-game suspension and possibly as much as an entire year depending on the severity of the infraction, according to FHSAA rules.
"It's unfortunate," Northeast coach Donnell Bennett said. "It shouldn't be like this."
Bennett added that he did not sense any tension building between the teams prior to the incident.
"I have no comment about all of that," Palm Beach Central coach Rod Harris said of the incident. "It's a pre-season game. We don't want anybody getting hurt or things to escalate."
Ray Wilson scored both of Palm Beach Central's touchdowns, the first on a 20-yard scoring pass from quarterback Brock Buckowski and the second on a 4-yard run, both in the second quarter after Northeast had built a 14-0 lead.
"I thought we did a great job of showing a lot of character coming back after we were down 14-0," Harris said.
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Jeff Greer contributed to this story.