FHS sports placed on ‘warning status’

Published 10:22 am Friday, August 26, 2011

FRANKLIN—The Virginia High School League has placed all of Franklin High School’s athletic teams on warning status for the football team’s alleged taunting of its opponents during the state semifinals at Armory Field in December.

“It (the warning status) just means that we cannot display any negative sportsmanship,” said Gail Wade, the school district’s director of human resources.

If there are no incidents, the warning status will be lifted in January, Wade said.

Franklin’s football team allegedly taunted visiting players from Riverheads during the playoff game, in which the Broncos lost 35-8 to the Gladiators.

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

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,” Hartlaub told The Tidewater News one day after the game.

When asked about the Virginia High School League’s actions, football Coach Darren Parker referred questions to Athletic Director Dave Lease, who referred questions to Assistant Principal Travis Felts. Felts referred questions to the school district’s administration.

Tom Zimorski, deputy director for the Virginia High School League, confirmed an issue was addressed by the league office, but it’s policy is not to share the information with the media.

“That’s their (the school’s) choice,” Zimorski said. “There was an incident. It was addressed by the league office. Beyond that, you have to get that from the school.”

Wade said a plan has been put in place to address good sportsmanship.

“This is a plan for all of the coaches, student athletes, and parents,” she said. “Everyone will be informed.”

Wade indicated the incident was nothing of a serious nature and there was not any damage to property.

“We are trying to put this situation behind us,” Wade continued. “Some weren’t involved and we really want all of the community support behind our athletes.”