District statement says newspaper sensationalized report on game that ended early with deputies involved
It’s a principle that Hunter-Kinard-Tyler head coach Dann Holland has preached to his players from the first moment he met with the Trojans during the summer.
So when the first-year head coach read The Times and Democrat’s game story following his team’s historic 40-8 win over Calhoun Falls, he wasn’t sure he was reading about the game he coached in, Holland said Monday.
“We had some late hits by the visiting team,” Holland said. “It was getting totally out of hand. They had some ejections. They had multiple personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
“I called a second time out, not to talk to my players about anything other than ‘You’re doing a good job of not retaliating. Don’t get involved in it. We’ve got bigger fish to fry and our players didn’t. They never got involved in it.”
During the time out, officials spoke with both coaches about ending the game in an effort to ensure the safety of all players, Holland said. The coaches agreed that ending the game prematurely was the best option.
From there, things escalated.
“I immediately turned around and instructed our coaches to send our guys to the locker room,” Holland said. “Unfortunately, after getting our players off the field, we turn around and the entire visiting team and visiting coaching staff is on our side of the field upset that we were leaving and, evidently, felt some things weren’t finished, more or less challenging us to come back.”
According to Holland and a statement by Orangeburg Consolidated School District Four issued Monday, it was at that point when the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office took over, directing Calhoun Falls’ coaches and players to leave the playing field.
Saturday’s T&D story reported the game being called with 3:19 left “due to what almost turned into a melee between the two teams.”
“With H-K-T up 40-0 in the fourth quarter, referees stepped in on several occasions to separate opposing players,” the story read.
On Friday night, Calhoun Falls head coach David Campbell blamed the H-K-T sideline for taunting his players.
“It’s just a bad situation,” Campbell told The T&D. “I had told the officials ... I’m watching them over there taunting our players.”
In a report by The Index-Journal of Greenwood, Campbell said, “It’s just a bad situation. I had been telling the officials that we were having trouble with coaches over there taunting our players. I was watching them, and with the score where it was, and the time where it was, the officials came over there and said, ‘Coach, do you want to just call the football game?’ and I said ‘Yes, let’s just call the football game.’”
The Greenwood newspaper’s report stated that after the game was called, Calhoun Falls “remained on the field for a prayer and a message from Campbell, while the H-K-T fans, incensed by the perceived dirty play of the visiting team, made their way toward the gate that accesses the field to seemingly confront the Blue Flashes while the Trojans’ public address announcer pleaded for order.”
On Friday night Holland denied any taunting and reiterated that on Monday.
The district statement made the same point. “No H-K-T player was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct or personal fouls.”
The Trojans have had two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the 2012 season on Holland’s watch and those infractions, he said, are things that he takes very seriously.
“With both of those penalties, our student-athlete was removed from the field,” Holland said. “He did not go back into the game and he was punished on Monday. We have made it clear since day one that we will not tolerate anything that is going to embarrass our community, our school, our fans or our families. Our players did not get involved in anything like that Friday night. We had zero penalties of the unsportsmanlike variety. We had zero ejections.”
The district statement criticized The T&D for its reporting:
“While we support the presence of the media at all district functions, we are sometimes disappointed at the sensationalism that takes place in the reporting of events. ... Instead of promoting the success of the current football staff, as well as address the local team’s coach and his concerns about the lack of game control by the officials, the reporter and headline writer chose to sensationalize the story with incomplete facts. OCSD4 takes strong exception to the portrayal of your local team.”
The district further stated: “The H-K-T staff and players have worked hard this year to be relevant in the classroom and on the playing field. Three of the coaches, including coach Holland, have played college football and understand the bigger picture of building young men for success. .... In an effort to sensationalize the story, The Times and Democrat did not use due diligence to get the entire story, which was a disservice to the players, coaches and parents of the H-K-T community.”
Friday night’s victory puts H-K-T in the Upper State title game for the first time in the school’s history. Now, they’re looking to make more history on Friday.
“We played well,” Holland said, “We behaved well. We represented our school and our community and our district well. Now, we’ve got to get ready to move to McCormick.”
The complete school district statement can be found online with this story at TheTandD.com