An out-of-control brawl that brought tension and injuries to the end of an ill-tempered football game in Michigan has led to the firing of one assistant coach days after one person was hospitalized as a result of the fight.
As reported by the Associated Press and AnnArbor.com, among other outlets, an unnamed assistant coach for Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer High was fired on Thursday for his role in allegedly helping spark a brawl immediately following Pioneer's 35-6 victory against Ann Arbor (Mich.) Huron High. The deposed assistant reportedly struck the first blow in the fight that eventually ballooned to include nearly the entirety of both teams.
According to AnnArbor.com's original reporting from the game, the fight began after both head coaches spent the final minutes of the game shouting at each other from across the field. Evidently Huron coach Cory Gildersleeve was upset that Pioneer continued to run a traditional offense late in the game despite the contest long since being decided. Rather than take a knee in the closing minute, Pioneer continued to drive down the field, eventually drawing so much ire that the two coaches' postgame meeting at midfield grew contentious.
When Gildersleeve met with Pioneer coach Paul Test, the two continued the argument that had begun in the game's closing minutes, with Test eventually absorbing a push from an unidentified assailant. That's when the Pioneer assistant coach who has since been dismissed sprung into action, punching Gildersleeve and igniting a brawl that including both teams involved in wild punching, tackling and, in one case, violently swinging a crutch.
No members of the Huron coaching staff have been similarly punished to this point, with Gildersleeve insisting that the two coaches had actually patched over their disagreement at midfield before the unnamed Pioneer coach struck his blow. Both head coaches have been suspended for their respective teams' games on Friday.
"We shook hands and I said, 'Paul what are you doing?' and he said 'I'm really sorry about that, I didn't know that they were calling those plays,'" Gildersleeve told AnnArbor.com. "And I said 'Paul, you're the head football coach, you don't have control over plays that you think you're calling at the end of the game like that? You take a knee.'
"He did apologize and I said 'that's fine Paul.'"
Both teams will hope that the dismissal of the Pioneer coach will bring an end to an incident that both will certainly want to put in their past.