An assistant high school football coach's apparent ploy to fire up players before a big game resulted in his arrest Wednesday for vandalizing school property.
The game was played Nov. 1, and Michael Schmitt's Marion County team lost to South Pittsburg, 35-17, in the latest chapter of one of Tennessee's oldest prep rivalries (a mere eight miles separate the two schools). That morning, students arrived on the Marion County High campus to find vulgarities spray-painted on its field house, a storage building and a parking lot in orange and black - South Pittsburg's school colors. South Pittsburg's "P" logo and derogatory names referencing Marion County players and coaches were included in the damage, estimated to cost several thousand dollars. In addition, trash was scattered around the field house.
It would appear at first glance to be the work of South Pittsburg supporters, but a joint investigation conducted by Jasper police and the Marion County Sheriff's Department found enough evidence to arrest Schmitt, a Marion County teacher who had also been hired to coach the school's baseball team.
"It is sad to say that this event gives the whole community a black eye and the real victims of this incident are the kids from both schools," said Marion County Sheriff's Detective Matt Blansett, as reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.