By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
For more than an hour Tuesday morning, Vardaman and Houlka high school football coaches and administrators met with officials from the Mississippi High School Activities Association in Clinton. The topic at hand was last Thursday night’s brawl between the Vardaman and Houlka football teams.
On Wednesday morning, the MHSAA finally handed out their punishments. Fourteen players were suspended by the MHSAA for their roles in the fourth-quarter brawl, each school was fined $500 and both schools are required to complete an online sportsmanship course before their next game.
“We spent two days gathering information,” said MHSAA executive director Don Hinton.
Two Vardaman players received one-game suspensions and four more players were suspended for two games. Those players will be eligible for the postseason, however.
“We’re taking this as a challenge to become better people and a better football team,” Vardaman head coach Justin Hollis said on the phone Wednesday morning.
Houlka, meanwhile, had eight players suspended – five for one game and three for two games. Since the Wildcats are idle this week and won’t qualify for the Class 1A playoffs starting two weeks from now, those suspensions will carry over into next year’s season-opener.
“We’re still in discussions with all of this,” Houlka principal Michael Gillespie said of appealing some of the suspensions. “We’re still in talks. There’s still a possibility to appeal them.
“We’re still hashing it out.”
Vardaman won last week’s shortened Division 1-1A contest, 28-0. With less than nine minutes to play in the game, a Vardaman defender brought down Houlka’s quarterback by his facemask.
Before the game officials could declare a penalty for the infraction, a Houlka player retaliated, leading to a short-lasting brawl near the Vardaman 35-yard line. The officials ended the game at that point.