Brawl mars end of Oak Glen football game

NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. – Hancock County sheriff’s deputies had to break up a “bench clearing” fight between Oak Glen and Weir High football players Friday night after the game, the sheriff said.

There were no serious injuries, and, so far, no charges have been filed, Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said.

Details about the incident are still sketchy, but Fletcher said sheriff’s deputies working the game did their job and were able to re-establish order.

“Both sides were told to go back to their own side of the football field,” he said. “Officers moved them off, separated them and made sure nothing else erupted.” Officers also escorted team members to their respective buses.

Fletcher said he staffed the game with the normal complement of six to eight deputies because he wasn’t anticipating any trouble. The Oak Glen-Weir rivalry is considered one of the classic high school rivalries in the Ohio Valley.

“Things like this do happen, unfortunately,” Fletcher said. “It was a very close game. Peoples’ emotions were high. But what triggered it, I don’t know.”

Oak Glen lost Weir, 27-23, Oak Glen’s sixth loss without a win.

Fletcher said he was in the stands at the time of the melee, but by the time he reached the field, order had been restored.

Fletcher said he doesn’t have any first-hand knowledge of criminal behavior but wouldn’t rule out an investigation. “If something needs to be followed up on, we will, absolutely,” he said.

Any follow-up may have to be handled by the school board or the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, he said.

Superintendent Suzan Smith said she left shortly before the game ended and was not aware of the incident.

Oak Glen Athletic Director Phil Rujak declined comment.

“We’re just in the process of trying to figure out what happened ourselves. There are a lot of stories out there. I’ve heard a lot of things,” he said. “We want to treat everyone fairly. I didn’t see everything that went on.”

In a preseason story, Oak Glen head coach Ian Whittington spoke to the intensity of the Oak Glen-Weir High rivalry.

“This game is huge,” Whittington said. “The county connection is there, and while most people eventually become friends, the two teams have never got along well. There’s a long history of pranks and antics surrounding the game.”

Whittington, a 2003 graduate of Oak Glen, is in his second year as head football coach.