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Fight-marred Tornado scrimmage cut short

Fight-marred Tornado scrimmage cut short
Things got hot Thursday when Union City concluded its first week of football camp with a scrimmage at Wayne County.
And it had nothing to do with the sultry weather conditions.
Tornado head coach Darren Bowling ordered his team to the bus after just one hour of the session when several fights broke out during and after plays between the two squads that met in last year’s Class 1A semifinals.
Reportedly, countless racial slurs made toward Twister players prompted some of the altercations, and both teams were said to have been regularly heard “jawing” at each other.
The most disturbing allegation to emerge from the ugliness came when it was said that a female Wayne County fan came onto the field and hit UC’s Keylon Hyde from behind while calling him a racial epithet — an action confirmed by Bowling.
A handful of players from both teams were ejected from the scrimmage that was officiated by three TSSAA-certified men, according to Wayne County head coach Ricky Rice. There were reportedly numerous late hits and “cheap shots” throughout the chaos.
Bowling, whose team beat Wayne County 31-21 on the same turf last season on the way to the Class 1A state championship, was disgusted at the transpirings.
“It certainly not the way I wanted us to end a good week of camp,” the Union City skipper said. “Our acts were almost all retaliation for things that were said and done to our kids.
“Still, I’m not going to have that from my team.”
Rice took the blame for his club’s actions.
“My team showed no character today,” the WC coach told The Messenger Thursday night. “And I’m responsible for that. We had daddies coming out of the stands pulling their kids off others. But I’m the one who it comes back on.
“We didn’t have any self-discipline or self-control. I’m really disappointed in my kids. And I’m embarrassed for our community, our school and our program. I don’t like it at all. And I’ll tell you what, we’ll get it corrected.”
In the abbreviated scrimmage, Wayne County scored a pair of touchdowns on three possessions while UC was held out of the endzone twice after threatening inside the 10 yard-line.
Other than the unsightly ending to four days away from home, Bowling said he was relatively pleased with the progress his young troops made at camp in Columbia.
“We’re so young and have so many people to replace, but we got some things accomplished,” said the coach, who must replace 16 starters off last year’s championship team. “We’re not going to use inexperience as an excuse. We’re going to play Union City football — the style we’ve played since I’ve been here — no matter who we have or how many.
“I do think the time away allowed us to spend some quality time with some kids who are going to have to step into bigger roles for us this year. We got a lot of good work in, and we bonded. That will help you when things get tough.”
Union City will scrimmage again Tuesday at home vs. McKenzie.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at

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