A Michigan high school football playoff game was called early due to an excess of personal fouls — but if they could refs would’ve likely thrown flags on the fans, as well.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the MHSAA Division 5 semifinal between Almont and Detroit Denby was called in the 4th quarter, with Almont leading 36-8. Tension boiled over as the players were leaving the field, and some Denby players entered the stands.
Video of the incident, below, appears to show a conflict between the Denby players and some adult fans.
The Free Press reports, citing witnesses, that the Denby players were spit upon, cursed at, and were the subject of racial slurs. Some of the players reportedly responded by throwing helmets or shoes, or by scaling a barrier separating players from fans.
After the game was called, there was a handshake between coaches before the Almont team gathered in the stadium’s north end zone for a post-game talk. It was then that members of Almont’s band chanted the phrase “Hard work!” which prompted a Denby player to shove a member of the band. The exchange ignited a bout of pushing and shoving that escalated when Almont fans allegedly began hurling racial slurs.
The game began on a sour note as many Denby players reportedly took a knee during the pre-game playing of the national anthem. Denby coach Deon Godfrey told the Free Press that the slurs began before kickoff.
“Our cameraman is white and was filming near some Almont fans,” he told the Free Press. “During the national anthem, he overheard them saying: ‘Look at these N-words taking a knee and they don’t even know why they’re doing it,’ and they kept going.”
Though the situation was tense and one Denby player was briefly detained by police to “ensure his safe removal from the situation.” No arrests were made.
The Detroit school district has not announced any disciplinary action, but Superintendent Nikolai Vitti released a statement which read in part:
“The school district is deeply disturbed by the actions witnessed this weekend during the Almont-Denby game. Based upon preliminary findings, it is our understanding that Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players after the game while leaving the field. The disrespect toward the city, school, and players continued on social media after the game where Almont fans used numerous racist stereotypes. We look forward to getting to the bottom of what occurred based on factual evidence to determine the district’s next steps on how best to support our school and its administration, coaches, and students.”
“We are saddened that the incredible accomplishments of the Almont Raiders football team, including making it to our first MHSAA State Final, have been overshadowed by the regrettable behavior of a handful of spectators at Saturday’s game,” Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar said in a statement.