Short 17 players suspended because of a brawl, four-time defending champion H.D. Woodson High School lost to Ballou High School 21-14 this Thanksgiving.
The game was clouded by controversy after 17 of the players from the defending champs were suspended because of a fight during the semifinal game against Eastern High School earlier this month.
Throughout that game, Woodson players complained of being targeted by Eastern players, including a late hit out of bounds that sparked a bench clearing brawl.
“It was the worst cheap shot I’ve ever seen of any game I’ve ever been around,” said Ward 7 Council member Vince Gray, who was at that game.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwon Wilson suspended nine Eastern players and 18 Woodson players, including the starting quarterback, running back and kicker. Nine Woodson players appealed their suspensions, but only one was overturned Wednesday.
Gray objected, arguing the punishment for the Woodson players was harsher than the suspensions for the Eastern players, who will be suspended for one game next year since their season is over. Gray argued the Woodson players should also have been able to serve their suspensions next season.
But Wilson said fighting among student athletes will not be tolerated
“Sometimes when these happen, there are people who have more to lose, and that’s an important lesson for them to learn now and that is it’s important at all times to be in control of your emotions,” he said.
Ballou scored touchdowns on their first two possessions Thursday morning. Woodson struggled offensively behind a third-string quarterback but closed the gap late in the game before falling short.
“We talk about playing for our community in Ward 8,” Ballou first-year head coach Minosos Rodgers said. “We need this championship on this side.”
“We played a good team. I mean, they're a four-time champion,” he said. “Tough game. It was down to the last play.”