Coach: No comment on alleged taunting

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FRANKLIN—The Riverheads High School coach would not comment Tuesday about an allegation in his hometown newspaper that Franklin’s football team taunted visiting players before Saturday’s state semifinals at Armory Field.

“I don’t have any comment on that stuff; that stuff is over,” said Riverheads Coach Robert Casto, whose team defeated the Broncos 35-8. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re now playing for the state championship.”

An article in The News Leader in Staunton, where Riverheads is located, indicated the Franklin players tried to intimidate the Gladiators.

Each time that Riverheads entered or exited the playing field before the start of the contest, Franklin players stopped warming up and taunted, pointed fingers and made gestures toward the Gladiator players, according to the article.

News Leader reporter Rob Hartlaub, who said he has been covering Virginia high school sports for more than 30 years, told The Tidewater News he watched the Franklin players stop their warm-ups when the Gladiators came onto the field.

“They went over to the sideline and began yelling and screaming, and making obvious gestures,” said Hartlaub.

The same thing happened when the Gladiators left the field, he said. Hartlaub indicated he was too far away to hear what Franklin players were allegedly saying.

He then spoke with Casto, who commented, “It’s hard to intimidate our kids.”

Franklin Coach Darren Parker didn’t want to say much about the alleged incidents.

“We had too much positive stuff going on the whole football season,” Parker said. “I’m not going to take the time to make a comment that is negative about our program.”

“We did the same pre-game ritual that we did for 12 weeks, and now all of a sudden, we’re trying to intimidate people,” he continued. “We have too many fans saying great things for me to even worry about something said by somebody who has nothing to do with our program.”