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Security, hecklers just some issues for Hoover as it returns to field

Security, hecklers just some issues for Hoover as it returns to field
The Hoover High School football team had its practice on Monday afternoon interrupted by hecklers. The team will be making its first appearance on Thursday after three games were forfeited in the aftermath of an on-campus brawl on Oct. 3. (Tim Berger / Glendale News-Press)

Security will be a little tighter than normal when the Hoover High School football team returns to the field after a three-week hiatus to face rival Glendale High on Thursday in the “Battle for the Victory Bell” football game.

Glendale Unified Supt. Winfred B. Roberson confirmed that extra security will be out on patrol during the cross-city rivalry contest.

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“GUSD customarily provides increased security and support at the ‘Battle for the Victory Bell’ game,” Roberson emailed Tuesday afternoon. “Thursday’s game will be no different.”

Roberson added that extra security will include “increased Glendale PD and GUSD yellow-jackets presence at the game.”

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Hoover’s coaching staff and players were together Monday afternoon for one of the few times since some players were involved in an on-campus brawl Oct. 3, which led to members of the coaching staff being placed on administrative leave.

The football team forfeited three games since then and only had a few days of practice before Thursday’s season finale.

Yet, the team couldn’t complete a full practice as the session was interrupted by four bystanders Monday afternoon who were filming and apparently trying to distract players from behind the school’s metal fence on Olmstead Drive.

Ironically, the foursome was making gestures and comments in front of an empty police car placed near the field as a security measure.

When Hoover football coach Terrance Jones and assistants walked over and asked the group to leave, members hurled insults at the coaching staff and challenged them to a fight.

One heckler told Jones, “I’m 20, what are you going to do about it?”

No security personnel was available during the incident, and Hoover principal Jennifer Earl had just walked away after checking in on the team.

“This is what we have to deal with,” a frustrated Jones said. “Where’s the security?”

Jones and his assistants walked back to the field, and the hecklers left before Earl made a return trip.

When asked about the football team’s safety, Earl responded that the school had utilized extra security since the Oct. 3 melee and said that “no one is in danger.”

Roberson added that, “GUSD assigned two additional security officers to Hoover. The additional security officers also support after-school practices.”

Monday’s episode exacerbated a growing feeling of isolation and disappointment some in the football program have expressed since the brawl.

One coach, who wished not to be identified due to job security, questioned why the district would suspend football coaches for a fight that happened during school hours when the coaches weren’t on campus.

When told that the leave of absence was part of protocol, another coach mentioned that the brawl’s instigators “are still walking around campus,” which he added puts the team in danger.

The coach is referring to a fight that allegedly began because of the bullying of a special needs student by an Armenian student, which caused a football player to defend the student and led to the brawl.

District officials have referred to this explanation as “only conjecture,” have said the fight was not fueled by racial differences and contended that the reason behind the confrontation was due to “a lack of communication.”

On Oct. 17, the district declared that Hoover’s contest against Crescenta Valley, set for Oct. 19, was canceled due to Hoover’s inability “to field enough varsity players who are ready to safely play.”

A few members of the football program contended the contest was not played due to a player boycott over the alleged mistreatment of the coaches and the program.

When asked if his team boycotted Friday’s contest against Crescenta Valley, Jones said, “You can put that in the paper if you want. That sounds right.”

Roberson responded that, “My office has no knowledge of an alleged boycott. GUSD and the CIF expect “honorable and good will” competition/play from coaches and student athletes.”

Thursday’s contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Moyse Field at Glendale High.

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