Several Western State Conference football coaches said Wednesday that players must eliminate trash-talking between teams to prevent brawls similar to the one that took place Saturday after the Pierce and Harbor junior college game.
Coaches have emphasized decorum during practices this week and said they will do so for the rest of the season.
“We have definitely talked about it,” Glendale College Coach John Cicuto said. “We talk about this kind of thing from day one. . . . Every day we tell them not to (talk trash) to the players on the other team on the field.”
Moorpark Coach John Bittner said he tries to defuse potential problems with a season-long gag rule on his players.
“I just forbid it (trash-talking),” Bittner said. “If they talk, they don’t play. I tell the kids I don’t think it’s part of the game. We’ve been able to keep it to a minimum.”
Although investigations by Pierce and Harbor into the incident so far have failed to find what caused the melee, Pierce Coach Bill Norton said that words exchanged between Brahma and Harbor players during the game might have contributed to the fight. Norton, who received cuts and bruises in the fray, also has broached the matter with his players.
“I have cautioned our players heavily about retaliating (against any opponent) and saying things,” he said.
The same message has been sent by Ventura Coach George Rosales to his squad. “We’ve made sure to let (the players) know that that kind of behavior is not acceptable to us,” Rosales said.
In addition to Norton, two other Pierce coaches were injured in the fight, which erupted near the teams’ locker rooms after Pierce defeated the Seahawks, 23-0, in an afternoon game at Harbor.
Pierce running backs coach Phil Wijmer received a chest bruise and offensive line coach Pat Swift was knocked unconscious after a Harbor player allegedly hit him on the head with a crutch.
Swift was listed in fair condition by Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday before being transferred to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.
Harbor player Dion Mills, 19, of Carson, was later booked at the Los Angeles Police Harbor Division station on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He was released after posting $35,000 bail.
The fight prompted Harbor officials to suspend the school’s football program for at least one week, pending further investigation. The school also suspended a Seahawk player, who was not identified.
Both schools have filed reports with Aviva Kamin, WSC commissioner, who is expected to announce today a decision on possible sanctions against the programs.
Harbor security officer Eugene Gaines said police at future Harbor games will ask game officials to keep the home team on the field until the entire visiting team enters its locker room.
Bittner, for one, has mixed feelings about that. “We have a tradition after the game of shaking the hands of our opponents and I’d hate to see that disappear,” he said. “But, you know, there might be some measures that need to be taken.”