One of the most disturbingly violent acts in recent prep sports history unfolded Friday in Georgia when members of a disgruntled losing team attacked the opposing coach outside the teams' locker rooms, leaving the victim hospitalized days later and officials from the coach's school district vowing to press charges related to the attack.
According to Augusta Georgia CBS affiliate WRDW, the Augusta Chronicle and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among other sources, Warren County (Ga.) High football coach David Daniel was brutally attacked when he tried to intervene in an escalating fight between his own players and members of the Hancock (Ga.) Central High football team. When Daniel entered the scrum to try and maintain a sense of calm, he was immediately struck in the face by a football helmet, sending him to the hospital.
"We saw everything break out, and our coach ran in to the middle of it where helmets were being used as weapons," Warren County School Superintendent Carole Jean Carey told WRDW. "He saw one of our players as he was being hit from behind by a Sparta player. He was hit from behind with a helmet, and then the Sparta player was coming up to take another swing at that same player, and so our coach said, 'Wait! Stop! What are you doing!' And the player just swung around and smashed him straight in the face."
Once Daniel arrived at the hospital, he underwent immediate major reconstructive surgery. Metal plates were inserted into his face to help the reconstruction process after doctors found crushed bones above and below his eye. The lacerations from the attack and subsequent surgery required some 100 stitches on Daniel's face.
The coach was released from the hospital on Sunday after two days of observation, with Daniel resting at home but allegedly expressing his anxiety to get back on the field as soon as possible.
Daniel's injury was the most visible and scary side effect of a dangerous brawl which Carey categorized as a potential ambush by Hancock Central players and fans. According to Carey, the Warren County team left the field peacefully after closing out a 21-2 victory at Hancock Central, but was unable to enter the visiting dressing room because it was locked. With the Warren County team boxed into a corner, Carey indicated that Hancock Central players and fans approached aggressively and began throwing punches and using helmets as weapons.
Carey, who witnessed the entire brawl firsthand, said that the Warren County School District fully intends to press charges against Hancock County and any individuals who can be tied to responsibility for the attack on Daniel, who assumed control of the school's football team just days before the start of the season. The Georgia Board of Investigations has already been called in to look into the incident, and the Georgia High School Association has been contacted to look into possible sanctions against Hancock County's athletics program.
Whether or not the sanctions come, Carey made one powerful decision unilaterally following the brawl:
"We will not be playing Hancock County this year. We will not play them in any other sport," she said.