By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The fight that broke out during the September 14 Escambia County-Hillcrest (Evergreen) high school football contest was not only costly in terms of contributing to ECHS’s 26-0 loss, but there is also the financial burden placed upon each ejected player and his parents or guardians.
The Blue Devils trailed the state-ranked Jaguars 10-0 in the first period when a group of ECHS defenders met a Hillcrest ball carrier en masse along the sidelines in front of the visitors’ bench, igniting a brief flurry of fisticuffs that sent Escambia coaches and a deputy sheriff racing across the field to help break the melee up.
When officials had sorted things out, three Escambia County players — senior Khalil Askew, junior Dmitri Wiggins and sophomore Dezmun Crenshaw — were ordered to the locker room, as were two players from Hillcrest.
“That took three good ballplayers out of the game,” said ECHS head football coach Rico Jackson. “Some stuff went on there, and sometimes you have to turn the other cheek, and that’s hard to do. But they not only hurt themselves, they hurt their teammates.”
According to Alabama High School Athletic Association bylaws, the ejections — since they were each player’s first of the season — triggered the levying of a $300 monetary fine against each one tossed from the game. Since there were no prior displays of unsportsmanlike conduct by either of the three Blue Devils players, each can get that fine reduced to $100 by taking an online sportsmanship test and paying the penalty within 10 days of the ejection.
“They have to take the [STAR Behavioral Mode] test online,” said ECHS Principal Dennis Fuqua. “I believe that’s all they have to do, except for paying the fines. There was no financial penalty to the school; it’s all to the players. I think they are on probation after this. If it happens again to one of these players, it would be bad for him.”
AHSAA bylaws mandate that a one-game suspension and a $500 fine be assessed against any player ejected a second time, while a third ejection would bring a minimum penalty of a suspension for the remainder of the season, as well as a $750 fine.
Fuqua noted that such behavior as displayed Friday night is not taught, nor will it be tolerated, at ECHS.
“That is not the team we’re going to put on the field or have represent us,” the principal said. “I understand that tempers get out of hand at times, but we believe in — and we teach — how to control ourselves in a more upstanding manner. I don’t think we’ll have this issue again.”