ANSON COUNTY, N.C. — A playoff run was stopped short after the state disqualified the Anson High School football team after a fight with the team in Richmond County.
The Anson Bearcats clinched a conference championship and should be taking the field Saturday, but a state ruling from the second game in the season will keep them on the sidelines.
A player from Anson and one from Richmond got into a fight and the benches were cleared.
Anson coach Ralph Jackson said his team's bench was 45 yards from the incident, which led to six ejections for Anson.
State athletic rules said more than three ejections in one season will eliminate a team from playoff contention.
The state said Richmond had fewer than three ejections, which means it can compete in the playoff game on Saturday.
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Jackson said he kept the state ruling from the team so they would stay focused, and they did by winning a conference championship for the first time in 10 years.
He said missing out on the playoffs is tough.
The guys cried, got really emotional," Jackson said. "I held mine until the end of the game. When I broke down, those seniors for me, that's the worst part. They really, really worked hard."
The Anson County school superintendent said the district has been trying to make appeals to the state to change its ruling.
Jackson said it was a good life lesson for his team about owning up to their mistakes and overcoming adversity.
Statement from Anson County Superintendent Michael H. Freeman:
"The entire Anson community wants our team to participate in the playoffs due to their athletic talents and demonstrated playing skills."
Statements from the NCHSAA:
"Due to the incident, Anson exceeded three fighting ejections accrued during the season and according to NCHSAA policy, was barred from advancing to the state playoffs."
"Richmond did not exceed three ejections for fighting during the season. Accordingly, they maintained their eligibility for postseason."
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