Georgia school voluntarily forfeits playoff spot rather than play team involved in football brawl

Cameron Smith

A high school boys basketball team in Georgia has taken the stunning decision to forfeit its scheduled playoff game rather than face a potential violent reaction from its own student body and that of its competitor after a similar matchup in football season yielded ugly results.

As reported by the Augusta Chronicle and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Warren County (Ga.) High officially forfeited its regional tournament playoff game against Hancock (Ga.) Central High, eliminating it from the regional championships and any chance of a state tournament berth; in Georgia, teams must reach the semifinals of regional tournaments to earn a state playoff berth.

While the decision is a stunning one, it is also well intentioned. Rather than trying to avoid a humiliating loss, Warren County is simply trying to avoid a repeat of the nasty brawl that followed the football game between the two schools in October. The melee drew national attention -- including coverage here at Prep Rally -- and forced Warren County head coach David Daniel to undergo major surgery after he was beaten by a Hancock Central helmet.

The bad blood from the postgame football brawl never truly passed, leading Warren County officials to take the rather unprecedented step of completely forfeiting all postseason play just to avoid facing off against a controversial foe.

"This is one of the most gut-wrenching decisions we have ever made," Warren County Schools Superintendent Carole Jean Carey, whose initial request to have Warren County switched into another regional bracket was denied by the Georgia High School Athletic Association, told the Chronicle.

Meanwhile, the Warren County students who are most affected by the voluntary forfeiture spoke up on Tuesday protesting the shocking decision to end their season before any postseason competition. Augusta CBS affiliate WRDW reported that the entire Warren County boys basketball team assembled outside their school and locked arms in a show of solidarity to try and force the school district to register their displeasure.

"Today, we out here basically just to get our voices heard," Warren County senior Ed'Ricus Williams told WRDW. "We feel like nothing bad would happen. We feel like it would be a good game like it always [is]."

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