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No playoffs for Camden as result of brawl

Posted: October 23, 2014 6:43 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Camden High School (CHS) has been ruled ineligible to compete in this year’s AAA state football playoffs after the S.C. High School League (SCHSL) completed its investigation of the post-game incident involving the Bulldogs and Dreher High School last Friday night at Zemp Stadium following a 39-30 Camden victory.

Dreher is also banned from post-season play this fall. Both programs are also prohibited from participating in any jamborees leading up to the 2015 season. Both Camden and Dreher will be allowed to play their final two 2014 regular season games.

The SCHSL completed its investigation into the incident Thursday with further sanctions. The final ruling came one day after the organization announced preliminary findings in the probe which involved suspensions for players involved in the fight.

Thursday, the SCHSL said “several athletes are suspended from play; some for this week’s game and some for multiple games in addition to this week’s game.” In addition, the final report placed sanctions on each school with both CHS and Dreher being fined an undisclosed amount and each school’s football team being placed on probation for one calendar year.

Due to the severity of the incident which involved multiple altercations and possible criminal charges by law enforcement, the decision to place both schools on probation is in accordance to the SCHSL’s constitution and by-laws, according to a press release.

“We extend a sincere thank you to each school’s administration and coaching staff for their full cooperation and their role in bringing closure to this matter,” SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton said. “We also want to thank the athletes who chose to not get involved in the incident and by doing so, exemplified what it means to be a representative of their school and the South Carolina High School League.”

The investigation stemmed from last Friday’s 58-second, post-game fracas which occurred during the post-game shaking of hands. The video from the incident was turned over to the SCHSL over the weekend, according to Camden High Principal Dan Matthews, who suffered a cut over and around his left eye while trying to subdue the situation.

“The (Kershaw County) school district and Dr. (Frank) Morgan and the (Kershaw County school) board are considering their options for a deal at this point,” Matthews said Thursday evening.

Matthews and CHS head football coach Jimmy Neal met with SCHSL Assistant Commissioner Skip Lax on Monday as did officials from Dreher High School.

Via email on Wednesday, the SCHSL said that “at least seven players from each team” were given suspensions. The SCHSL and the two schools would not release the names of the players who will serve suspensions.

Wednesday’s ruling identified players who took part in the Oct. 17 incident of having a minimum of a one game suspension, starting with tonight’s game, which for Camden is a home contest with Richland Northeast with the possibility of additional penalties at a later date.

Lax said both schools have been “cooperative and helpful” by providing results of their individual investigations.

 “It was with the assistance of the schools that we were able to identify the athletes that were involved,” Lax said.

Wednesday’s release went on to outline the SCHSL’s goals and rules.

“The South Carolina High School League is committed to a thorough process when addressing these violations in accordance with the SCHSL Constitution and By-Laws. It is our goal to stress the importance good sportsmanship while representing any South Carolina high school athletic program. The actions displayed during last week’s incident will not be tolerated.”

Camden Police Department Capt. Mike Stone said Thursday the department has studied a video recording of the incident and has conducted interviews with participants from both teams. He said the department is looking into the possibility of criminal charges in a separate investigation from the one by the SCHSL. He said the investigation is ongoing but he expects to have a recommendation to pass along to the solicitor’s office, if there is one, by the end of next week.

(Assistant Editor Gary Phillips contributed to this story.)

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