Penalties likely in boys lacrosse brawl

Canceling rest of season, ban from playoffs possible for Liberty, South Carroll

High Schools

May 04, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Carroll County superintendent Charles Ecker said he's "leaning toward" canceling the rest of the season for the Liberty and South Carroll boys lacrosse teams and keeping them out of the playoffs after a brawl that forced suspension of Friday night's game between the schools.

Ecker said he's considering the action after reviewing a tape of the incident, which took place at Liberty. The game, a rematch of last year's Class 4A-3A region final, was tied at 13 with 2:59 left when a shoving match apparently started near the South Carroll goal and escalated with punches being thrown.

The referees broke it up, but problems began again moments later with players from both benches coming on the field - and parents even coming on the field, events that clearly upset Ecker. The officials then suspended the game. Ecker said the situation will be decided in the next few days.

"It's an embarrassment, it's a disgrace, and I'm ashamed of it," Ecker said. "Everything is under consideration. Right now, I'm leaning toward canceling the rest of the season for those two teams and not letting them participate in the state playoffs."

Ecker, who is scheduled to meet with the principals of both schools today, said several scenarios are being considered.

South Carroll's game with North Carroll last night wasn't played, and its status is up in the air, according to South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn. The Cavaliers' next game is scheduled for Friday against Winters Mill, and Ecker wants the situation resolved by then.

Ecker said the county would help anyone who wants to bring charges do so. It also is trying to identify the parents who came on the field and is considering giving them a lifetime ban from any county extracurricular activities. Ecker said disciplinary actions will be considered against any coaches or players involved.

Horn is aware of Ecker's thoughts and said the school would back even the most severe penalty.

"The actions by both teams were deplorable," Horn said. "We are dismayed and we are very sorry about what happened on the field, and I can tell you that we will support 100 percent any decision that will come down from the Board of Education."

Horn also said that South Carroll has identified at least two parents from the school who came on the field. Sources also said a South Carroll parent appeared to be trying to assault a Liberty assistant coach.

South Carroll coach Bill McDermott sent out a letter yesterday apologizing for his team's role. He said in an interview and in the letter, "I can assure you that every effort will be made by me and my staff to see that something like this never happens again."

Liberty coach Kevin Roy could not be reached to comment. Principal Florence Oliver declined to comment and referred all calls to the county's Central Office.

Many support Ecker's idea of suspending the teams for the rest of the season.

"I think a strong message needs to be sent," said Bruce Cowan, Carroll County's supervisor of physical education and athletics. "I wouldn't have any problems with that."

Bryan McLean is the play-by-play announcer for Adelphia Sports, the cable outlet in Carroll County that was televising the game, and saw the events and watched how the problems started.

McLean said he's never seen anything like it in the 17 years he's announced Carroll County games on radio or television.

"I was shocked," McLean said. "It lasted several minutes, and both benches got involved."

John Sheehan, the scholastic assigning authority for the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association, said the group is responsible for about 2,000 games a year from about 130 schools in the metro area.

He said that games being suspended are rare, although two happened earlier this season.

"It happens once in a while for whatever reason," Sheehan said. "The kids usually behave."

Eric Swanson - whose son is T.J. Swanson of South Carroll - said ending the Cavaliers' season would be too drastic of a penalty for both teams.

"Canceling the remainder of the season would be too unfair," Eric Swanson said. "There were many kids from both sides that ... were involved and [other] kids not involved. I just think it's too much."

No police reports had been filed as of last night and no police calls came from the county sheriff's office or the state police from the incident Friday night.

Rich Scherr contributed to this article.

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