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Judge Carrie Webster should get the game ball

November 29, 2010
By FRED YOUNCE

Saturday's phenomenal West Virginia Class AAA semifinal football game at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field was one people will be talking about for years.

Unfortunately for all those involved, the reason won't be the 29-28 nail-biter put on by Brooke and South Charleston.

It will be because of the controversy surrounding some of the young men who played in the game and, worse yet, the adults who allowed it to happen.

The MVP of the game didn't even step foot on Laidley Field.

She sat behind a bench in a Kanawha County courtroom.

Kanawha County 13th Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster was the most instrumental person in the outcome of the game allowing four suspended Black Eagles players to participate by granting a temporary restraining order against the SSAC's ruling following a brawl between South Charleston and Hurricane with 14.4 seconds left in their quarterfinal game on Nov. 19.

Let's hope Black Eagles' coach John Messinger sent her a game ball, because she deserved it.

Webster awarded the restraining order because they had "presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they will suffer immediate and irreparable harm" if they have to wait for a hearing before they can play.

No, Judge Webster, the people that are suffering "immediate and irreparable harm" are the Brooke kids, the Martinsburg kids, and any other teams in West Virginia that have abided by the rules and not filed a court injunction because they feel the rules don't apply to their star players.

It must have been easier for Webster to make the decision, and do it with the SSAC having no knowledge that they were meeting, considering the attorney for the South Charleston kids, Ben Salango, is a member of the her finance committee.

I'm not accusing anyone of impropriety but I'm just saying it does smell fishy.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that a Hurricane player started the fight with a punch after the Eagles intercepted a pass to clinch the win. He and any other Hurricane player involved should be dealt with accordingly.

"But, he started it" didn't work when you were 5, why should it work now?

That does not make what the South Charleston players did acceptable and anyone who thinks so is either a Black Eagle fan or a moron.

As I looked on the Internet and read some of the foolish things people are saying, I have to wonder if there have been a lot of traumatic head injuries in the Charleston area - things like "Brooke wanted to go to the state championship without playing the best."

So what you are saying is that Brooke forced the South Charleston kids to throw punches in a post-game brawl with Hurricane to in order to get an easier path to Wheeling and did this a day before they had even secured a birth in the semifinal game.

That Tom Bruney and his Bruins sure are wiley ones I tell you. Thank goodness Webster and Salango were there to thwart their evil plans for West Virginia high school football domination.

How about the Mensa candidate who wrote, "I think a lot of people are scared of SC and are trying to make a big deal out of it so they can try to make something out of it next week if SC wins."

So this bench-clearing brawl was not a big deal and is just a conspiracy because people are afraid of the Black Eagles?

You're probably right, the Bruins sure did look scared when they ran the ball down their throats for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Ryan Lazear, the poor kid, must have been terrified when he dragged those two kids into the endzone on his first touchdown.

The SSAC may not be allowed, by rules, to review the video. but I'm not subject to these laws and I assure you the Black Eagles entire team played a huge role in what that fight escalated into.

The four players suspended and named in the injunction were Tyler Harris, Pierria Henry, Emmerson Gagnon and Travand Reese.

Reese's name you may know from the version of the fight video being watched on TV by some kids as you hear the kids saying "watch Travand, watch Travand."

That version of the fight has been removed by the user.

I watched the fight video several times and all four players named threw obvious punches during the fight. While we're at it let's throw in No. 34 Cory Ellis and No. 1 George Streater as well. They both threw obvious punches during the brawl as well.

There are reports that a fifth player was suspended but I have never heard the name of that player and I wonder why he was not named in the injunction.

Were his parent the only adults involved on the South Charleston side of things with any desire to teach him right from wrong, did he just step forward and admit he was guilty, or was he just not a starter?

There were rumors that the fifth player was Streater, but since he was dressed and played I must assume it wasn't him and since Ellis was dressed and led his team on the field my guess is it wasn't him.

Would an injunction have been filed for Reese and Gagnon if they were junior varsity special teams players? How about Henry? Would he have been included if he was 5-foot-4 and ran a 5.4 40-yard dash instead of being 6-4 and running a 4.4 40-yard dash?

I would guess Harris would not have been included if he won the scout team hustle award instead of the Kennedy Award.

No matter who started it, the actions of these young men are unacceptable, and the fact that it is condoned by Messinger, Principal Michael Arbogast, Superintendent Ronald Duerring and the parents of the players is a travesty.

Making it worse is that Brooke has had players and even Bruney sit out games due to ejections during the past two seasons and without even filing an injunction.

Gasp!

They taught their players to be responsible for their actions and even showed that the coach isn't above the same repercussions.

It's madness, I tell you.

Not to mention all the other players around the state that have had to sit out games.

What makes the South Charleston players above this?

What about the thousands of players who have played within the rules, not committed suspendible offenses, and have to sit by and watch as these kids are rewarded for their actions by being allowed to play in the state semifinals and now the finals?

What kind of message is being sent?

Messinger, to me, is the worst offender in this whole messed up situation.

One of his quotes regarding this situation was, "To sit back and know that young men of great character are being told they're guilty of something and know in their heart of hearts that they weren't involved, that's tough. I know these kids' character and I know how they're taught both here and at home. To see them accused of something they didn't do ... they're like my kids. I get extremely defensive."

As I stated earlier I am not bound by the same rules of the SSAC and am able to watch the video.

Guess what coach Messinger. You aren't either.

Watch the video and see your "young men of great character" doing exactly what they are being accused of.

Are you afraid to find out that your players looked you in the eyes and lied about not doing what they were accused of?

Or have you seen the video, know the truth and are the one looking in people's eyes and lying because you are more worried about winning your precious third-straight state title instead of teaching and developing responsible young men?

Did you hear Henry's interview with WOWK-TV in Charleston after the Brooke game?

In case you didn't he said, "Life goes on. Everyone makes mistakes, we're kids. Whatever happens, happens."

Doesn't sound like someone who knows they didn't do what they are accused of to me.

You weren't bound by the restraining order coach Messinger. You could have, along with Arbogast and Duerring, suspended these kids and really been leaders and educators of young men.

You could have been a role model to your players and an example of how to do things the right way to other coaches throughout the state and country

You didn't though and have shown the whole state and most of the country what your true colors are.

Way to teach your kids that rules are to be followed, unless of course you can find a way around them.

Here's hoping you receive everything you've earned.

(Younce, a Steubenville resident, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at fyounce@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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