What initially appeared to be a case of an overzealous high school rivalry gone awry took a bizarre turn Wednesday when a Tennessee assistant football coach was arrested for allegedly vandalizing his own program’s facility.
As reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Associated Press, and brought to Prep Rally’s attention by Tennessee High School Football Examiner Donovan Stewart, Marion County High School (Jasper) teacher and assistant football coach Michael Schmitt was arrested Wednesday and charged with vandalism causing damages between $1,000 and $10,000.
The charges stem from an incident that unfolded in the early morning hours of Friday, November 1, when someone wrote a variety of vulgarities around the exterior of the Marion County field house. The graffiti was capped off with a large "P" logo representing South Pittsburg High (South Pittsburg), Marion County’s foe that evening.
Authorities now believe that Schmitt — who teaches economics, government and personal finance at the high school — spray painted the vulgarities himself and attempted to frame South Pittsburg in an attempt to inspire his Marion County squad to a win in the schools’ rivalry game. If that was his motive, it didn’t work; South Pittsburg won 35-17.
"It is sad to say that this event gives the whole community a black eye and the real victims of this incident are the kids from both schools," Marion County Sheriff's Detective Matt Blansett told the Times Free Press.
While Schmitt's arrest has sent the Marion County program into turmoil, the team doesn’t have long to refocus its on-field efforts. The team returns to playoff action on Friday when the Warriors face off against Boyd Buchanan High in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
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