The Central Catholic at Rogers football game ended with 1:44 left in the third quarter last night when an altercation on the field resulted in the game being stopped with the Irish leading 17-0.
After a pileup near the Rogers sideline with the Rams on offense, a scuffle started on the field. Pushing and shoving ensued for a minute or two before coaches from both teams were able to break up fights between the players.
The players on the Rams' bench went on the field to join the fracas, but Central coaches and administrators were able to keep Irish players on their sideline, according to Central coach Greg Dempsey.
Rogers coach Rick Rios said he believed both sidelines emptied onto the field but declined to comment further.
Dempsey was adamant the players on the Irish bench did not go onto the field.
"I didn't see exactly what happened [to precipitate the fight]," Dempsey said. "I just saw the whole [Rogers] bench empty, and we had 11 guys against 40. I'm proud of the way our kids [on the bench] acted. They had to stand on the sideline and watch their teammates get jumped by 40 guys."
Dempsey said two of his players suffered injuries in the melee.
According to Dempsey, one suffered swollen eyes as a result of being gouged and the other was suffering from abdominal pains after ending up at the bottom of the pileup and repeatedly being kicked.
The officials met with coaches and decided to call the game and award the 17-0 victory to Central (7-0, 3-0 City League).
Rogers officials said referees called the game to ensure the safety of the players. Game officials sent the Rams to their locker room and kept the Irish players on the field until the Central team buses could be brought to the field.
Once the Central players boarded, the buses left with a police escort.
"It was not a safe environment for either team to be in at that point," said Dempsey, who added a fight had broken out in the stands behind the Rogers bench shortly before the brawl on the field.
Reached by telephone last night, Central athletic director Bill Axe said he was not in attendance and declined to comment.
Rogers athletic director Randy Bartz was in attendance but said he did not see the fight take place.
"I was away totaling ticket sales, and when I came back, the officials had called the game," Bartz said. "I've never been a part of anything like this before. We're looking at the film now to try and figure out what happened."
For the most part, fans from both schools left in an orderly fashion.
During the first half, Central's standout tailback/linebacker Brad Rogers suffered an injury and was taken to a hospital. Dempsey didn't believe the injury was serious.
Rogers falls to 2-5, 1-3 and next week will likely be without any player who participated in the fight or left the sideline to join the altercation, per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules. Central players could also be suspended for a game per review of the game film for fighting.
City League commissioner Ed Scrutchins said he will meet with administrators and coaches from both schools Monday to discuss the incident.
Scrutchins was not in attendance but spoke with the game officials, who will be filing a report with the City League and OHSAA.