Butler-Cross Creek game still canceled, despite parents’ anger
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Educators and coaches are defending the decision to cancel Friday’s football opener between Butler and Cross Creek high schools.
In the wake of a brawl this week at Butler and then a shooting at Josey High School, Richmond County School System officials decided to cancel the game. It won’t be rescheduled, and that has some parents angry.
The move was mutually agreed upon by coaches at both schools, according to Richmond County Board of Education President Charlie Walker.
The reason the game won’t be rescheduled is because Cross Creek and Butler have a full schedule this year. Since it’s not a region game, it doesn’t affect their chances at state playoffs
It all comes down to safety, said Cross Creek Head Coach Ezzard Horn.
“It was tough on both sides, because both programs have been working hard this summer. We just wanted to get our guys out there and compete,” he said.
He said he trusts district Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw when he says he has everyone’s best interests at heart to keep them safe.
So the coaches are following his lead; if it’s not a safe environment, then it’s not safe.
“People make decisions that they don’t understand will impact other people’s lives,” said Horn. “When the administrators talk it’s always safety first. That’s one thing I do like about Richmond County, our district always stresses safety first.”
MORE FROM NEWS 12:
- For first time, gangs blamed for flare-up of school violence in CSRA
- Safety takes more than metal detectors, school board chief says
- For Josey students, moments of terror follow shooting
Horn said he knew earlier this week there was a possibility the game could be canceled so he started telling players early on, then official confirmation came Thursday.
The players were very upset, but they are taking away a valuable lesson, Horn said.
“They totally understood that if it’s not a safe environment for them, we wouldn’t play the game,” he said.
Horn says they will be fired up and ready to go for their own first home game next Friday.
“One thing going forward that I could now teach my guys is make sure any decision that you make, you’re mindful, and you’re considerate of another person’s feelings about the situation that they’re going to make,” he said.
Still, some parents are expressing frustration at the decision – especially since Josey, where there was a shooting will still play.
“The parents were not considered when they canceled the game even though they say it’s a safety precaution,” said Dianne Walker, whose son is a senior football player at Butler High School. “If it’s just a safety precaution for Richmond County, then no game should be played in Richmond County.”
Instead, her senior is watching others play from the sidelines.
“If you’re going to allow Josey to play, then you should allow Butler to play because the football players were not involved in any of these fights, altercations, or shootings involved at school,” said Walker. “It was people at the school.”
The shooting appeared to be the result of a private dispute between two students, although the Butler brawl was widespread, involving many students.
“They could have put in other precautions to make sure that the kids were able to play because they work all summer long, they work after school, they work during school,” she said.
What upsets her the most is her son’s school is not the only one with fights and altercations.
“Richmond County and surrounding areas had behavior problems the first week of school, all the schools did,” said Walker. “Burke County, Columbia County, Aiken, all of them had it but Butler is being held to a higher standard and I don’t know why.”
She is still searching for an answer.
“I don’t want anybody’s children to get hurt, especially of course not mine or anybody else’s for that matter,” she said. “It’s not fair that the football players have to now take the heat of what’s going on at the entire school. There is more security at the football games than it is at actual schools.”
Copyright 2023 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.