By JOSH FRYE
A 7-on-7 football scrimmage between Northview High School and Escambia County High School turned violent Tuesday morning, July 23, at ECHS’ Herbert Barnes Stadium.
Such scrimmages are normally played with no contact as players are equipped with only a helmet.
The teams stayed neck-and-neck, and both seemed to be enjoying the scrimmage until a few players from each team started jawing back and forth. That set the scene for the events that played out on the next series of downs, and dirty hits and blocks added fuel to the fire.
ECHS quarterback Jacob Hammack threw a pass that was blocked. As the play was ending, a Chiefs player and Blue Devils player grabbed each other’s facemask and began to talk back and forth.
The incident turned violent when the players decided to take swings at each other. As the players fell to the ground, both teams stormed the field and added to the chaos. Helmets began to fly, and haymakers were thrown in every direction.
ECHS Coach Scott Mason and NHS Coach Derek Marshman raced onto the field to break up the brawl.
Mason and Marshman guided their teams back to the sidelines and yells of “This is not how we play football,” could be heard from opposite sides of the field.
The 7-on-7 concluded after the brawl, with the Chiefs gathering their belongings and heading back to their bus for the ride back to NHS.
Mason said after the marred scrimmage that the incident was unfortunate but was a byproduct of the competitive nature of 7-on-7 competitions.
“We’re two schools that are close to one another,” he said. “It got too physical too quick. The situation might have stemmed from the spring game with Northview (a contest that was won by ECHS). Our kids didn’t take too well to getting slung down on a play, and they stuck up for one another.”
Marshman said the competitive nature of such scrimmages is one reason he doesn’t like participating in them.
“Kids tend to lose the big picture of things, and tempers escalated pretty quick today,” the NHS coach said. “I thought the players and coaches did a good job of de-escalating the fight. At that point, we thought it would be best to leave rather than let it continue.”
Mason and Marshman each said the incident does not have to be reported to the Alabama High School Athletic Association or Florida High School Athletic Association.
It was, however, reported to ECHS Principal Dennis Fuqua and NHS Principal Mike Sherrill, and disciplinary action was reportedly taken against the involved players on each team.