By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
It’s Week 11. Here’s a look at some of Friday’s battles with big-time playoff implications in the second-to-last game of the regular season, a logjam in Region 3 West, and an update in the Warren County-Hancock Central brawl case, now in the hands of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Hancock County superintendent speaks out. On Monday, Hancock County Schools Superintendent Gwendolyn Jefferson Reeves returned a phone message from last week. As it turns out, Hancock County Schools were on fall break last week and no one was in the central office.
She said she plans to hold a press conference as soon as the GBI has completed its investigation into the fight that broke out on Oct. 14, after Hancock Central’s 21-2 home loss to Warren County in which Warren County head coach David Daniels was seriously injured. He suffered severe wounds and broken bones in his face that required surgery.
Warren County Superintendent Carole Jean Carey immediately asked Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn Primus to allow the GBI to take over the case. Primus initially denied the request but asked the GBI to step in a few days later. While Carey has been somewhat vocal about the issue, officials from Hancock County have been silent. Until now.
Reeves said she called Carey on the Monday morning after the game.
“I told her I was sorry about what happened and that I wanted us to meet perhaps and get together to bring closure and healing. She said we denied letting her park their buses in another place and said she had contacted their attorney and planned to ask the GBI to get involved,” Reeves said. “At that point, I said OK and told her to have a nice day.”
Reeves said she reached out to Carey again this week via email as a gesture of goodwill. She said Carey has not responded.
Reeves denied another statement made by Carey where she suggested that there have been other instances at Hancock Central involving other high schools where safety was a concern.
“No, absolutely not,” Reeves said. “I do not have any documentation of anything like that.
“[Warren County and Hancock Central] are rivals, but there has always been great sportsmanship between our teams,” Reeves said. “We shook hands after the game [on Oct. 14] as usual. I don’t know what happened.”
The voice mailbox in the Warren County Superintendent’s Office was full when we attempted to reach Carey for comment late this afternoon.
Reeves is also concerned that no attention has been paid to the fact that a Hancock Central player suffered a concussion during the fight. He was taken to a local hospital and released early Saturday morning. Reeves said he did not play in last week’s game against Wilkinson County and she does not know if he has been cleared to play on Friday at Glascock County.
Reeves said she will release more details from Hancock County’s perspective once the GBI has completed its investigation. Additionally, she plans to hold a community forum for Hancock County parents, residents and business leaders at 6 p.m., Nov. 3 at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Sparta. The football team will be in attendance as well.
“I want to call our community together with our players so that we can share ideas on how something like this can never happen again,” Reeves said.
Here are several more comments from her:
On Daniels. “My heart aches for him and his family. Our hearts are heavy. We’re all devastated about what happened. Our team and our athletic director sent him a card. We wish him well and his family well in his recovery.”
On rumors that Warren County players had taunted Hancock Central players during Hancock Central’s loss at Washington-Wilkes on Oct. 7: “That did happen. [A Washington-Wilkes coach] emailed our principal and me, and apologized and then he complimented our players for the way they handled themselves. He said [Warren County players] were making derogatory remarks and taunting our players.”
On Carey’s assertion that her request to move the Warren County team buses to a place that would be safer for her players after the game was denied: “I asked my principal and athletic director and they said no, [Carey’s request] did not happen. They said no one came to them with that.”
On the results of the investigation: “I hope the truth comes out, and whoever is responsible according to the policies and rules we have in place in the student handbook will be held accountable. This absolutely goes for any adults as well. Absolutely.”
On Warren County players, parents and residents attending the community forum she plans to host next week in Sparta: “[Carey] has not responded to me, but if they would like to come and join us they are more than welcomed. I would love for [Carey] to come as well as a show of leadership and a willingness to heal.”
Who’s No. 1 in Region 3 West? Emanuel County Institute, Johnson County and Portal all have 4-1 marks on their side of subdivided Region 3, and are 1-1 against each other. This week, all three go on the road to face teams that are a combined 5-10 in the region and 8-16 overall, meaning that some sort of tiebreaker will have to be instituted in order to determine the seedings for next week’s region crossover games.
Brookstone at No. 5 Marion County. Even though they are undefeated and have allowed a total of just 27 points all season, Marion County (8-0, 8-0) still has not locked up the Region 4 title. A win over Brookstone (7-1, 7-1) will do it. But the Cougars have proven to be one of the state’s most resilient teams this season. Injuries to key players have trimmed their roster by almost a third, down to just 25 players.
Wilkinson County at Warren County. Wilkinson County (7-1, 3-1) still has an opportunity to win the Region 7 championship with a win over No. 3 Lincoln County (8-0, 4-0), at home next week. But first they’ll have to get past the Screaming Devils (6-2, 3-2) this week. Warren County damaged its playoff chances by losing to Washington-Wilkes last week (34-13).
Bacon County at No. 4 Wilcox County. The Red Raiders are trying to prevent their Cinderella story from turning into a nightmare. Bacon County (6-2, 4-2), just 13-37 since 2006, needs to pull the upset over Wilcox County (8-0, 6-0), in order to secure a spot in the post season. If not, they will most likely be faced with the prospect of having to beat Lanier County (5-3, 3-3) next week for the final playoff spot in Region 2.