Florida High School Athletic Association investigating scuffle after Palmetto-East Lake football game

jlembo@bradenton.comNovember 19, 2013 

Palmetto football coach Dave Marino works with players in practice Tuesday afternoon. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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BRADENTON -- The Florida High School Athletic Association plans on contacting administrators from Palmetto and Tarpon Springs East Lake in regards to a scuffle that broke out following Friday's Class 7A-Region 3 playoff game.

An East Lake parent alleged on the Herald's Facebook page and website that a Palmetto coach struck an Eagles player during the scuffle and also sent the same letter to two different editors at the Herald.

The confrontation ended quickly and the teams did not shake hands. Palmetto huddled on its sideline after the game while the Eagles gathered under a goal post in one of end zones following the Eagles' 13-12 win.

"As of now, we haven't seen the game film. We're communicating with both schools," said Justin Harrison, the FHSAA's executive director of athletic services whose responsibilities include overseeing the conduct of coaches and players. "Whenever allegations come in of the sincerest nature, we always take a look to see what happened."

Harrison said he received an email from someone over at East Lake regarding the incident, but no official report had been filed. He also said he plans on speaking with the game's officiating crew.

Matt Braselton, a Palmetto assistant, responded to the claim by commenting on the Herald's page that "not ONE PHS coach threw any punches and allegations like that are not needed. ... It needs to be made clear coaches from both sides broke up a small scuffle that broke out af

ter a late hit. No coaches threw any punches at any players, bottom line."

Palmetto athletic director Kenny Ansbro said he hadn't heard anything from the FHSAA as of 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Ansbro, who watched the game from Palmetto's sideline, said he didn't see any of the Tigers' coaches strike any East Lake players.

"I don't know where that came from," Ansbro said. "The referees, the coaches, they made everybody get back and that was it. ... It was quick."

Ansbro said the decision not to shake hands was mutual between the teams, adding the East Lake coaches were "very respectful."

Palmetto stayed 45 minutes after the game while the players ate their postgame meal, Ansbro added.

"The kids ate right there," Ansbro said. "Don't you think someone from their staff would have said something (if a coach hit a player)?"

Ruth Riel, East Lake's athletic director and assistant principal, said Monday afternoon she was still trying to gather information and declined further comment.

Bob Hudson, the Eagles' head football coach, did not respond to a phone call requesting comment Monday afternoon.

The Eagles (11-0) host Largo Pinellas Park on Friday in a Class 7A-Region 3 semifinal.

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