The defending D.C. high school football champions may enter the Turkey Bowl without 18 players following a brawl during the semifinals.
The H.D. Woodson High School Warriors trounced Eastern High School 48-0 Saturday to earn a spot in the Turkey Bowl. But as the game ended, the teams began fighting.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced Wednesday 18 Woodson and nine Eastern players are suspended for one game.
“This is unfortunate,” he said. “This is not something I wanted to be standing here talking about. I was really excited and I’m still excited to watch the game. At the same time, it’s important to uphold safety and student behaviour.”
One of the suspended Woodson players admitted to News4 he made a mistake in fighting but insisted the Eastern players were trying to provoke the Woodson players.
A parent of a Woodson player who was at the game agrees.
“They were provoking fights through the game,” the parent said. “Late hits and penalties for unnecessary roughness, and Woodson players got frustrated.”
All 27 student athletes will be able to appeal their suspensions, and if they win their appeal, the Woodson players could still play next week.
Woodson is a dynasty in D.C. high school football, having won four straight titles and 15 times overall. They’ve played in more Turkey Bowls than any other team since the Thanksgiving Day tradition began in 1955.
“It’s just a reflection of how much hate there is to seeing Woodson win five straight Turkey Bowls,” a Woodson parent said. “It’s never been done before.”
The Turkey Bowl is no stranger to controversy.
In recent years, Wilson High School was disqualified from playing in the Turkey Bowl and Dunbar High School had its title stripped -- both for violating rules.
Woodson’s coach was fired in 2012 for using an ineligible player but rehired after two years. He remains the winningest coach in Turkey Bowl history.
As Eastern’s season is over, its nine players would sit the first game next season.