Two Florida high school head football coaches have been fired after both of them - in separate incidents - were allegedly involved in physical confrontations with their own players.
Keith Byars, a former fullback and tight end for the Miami Dolphins, was dismissed from Boca Raton Community High School on Thursday for allegedly shoving quarterback Kevin Anderson in the chest with two hands during an outburst in the second quarter of the Bobcats' 26-19 loss to Jupiter High last week. The incident was caught on videotape. The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports that offensive coordinator Lewis Burnham will take over for Byars, who racked up a 14-11 record in his two-plus seasons at Boca Raton.
According to the paper: "Byars' dismissal had been rumored since his meeting with Boca Raton principal Geoff McKee on Tuesday evening, but the school wanted to handle the situation delicately because of concerns about tensions involving Byars' son and his teammates. Keith Byars II is the Bobcats' leading rusher this season."
Also on Thursday, at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, first-year freshman football coach Dan Widrich was arrested and fired for reportedly grabbing a player by the shoulder pads and pushing him up against a set of lockers following a Wednesday night loss at home to Oviedo High. The player was struck in the face during the altercation, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and several coaches had to break up the confrontation.
"It was not a fight or anything, just inappropriate contact," Hagerty principal Sam Momary told the paper. "That doesn't meet the standard of behavior that we expect from people. Anybody that can't treat kids appropriately can't work here. I have removed that coach from further contact with our players and school." Widrich, who was charged with battery with bond set at $500, was not a teacher at the school and worked in what was considered a supplementary part-time coaching position. A varsity assistant coach is expected to take over the freshman team.
These incidents are not without precedent in Florida, according to The Palm Beach Post: In 2009, Ron Ream, football coach at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, was forced to resign after allegedly putting his hands on a player during a 2009 practice. Ream was reinstated days later amid overwhelming community support.