CCSD de­fends of­fi­cer; prin­ci­pal says dis­ci­pline yet to be de­cided

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Sam Gor­don and Rio La­can­lale

Is­sues re­main un­ad­dressed from Fri­day’s postgame brawl that took place be­tween Ba­sic and Canyon Springs

Fri­day night’s Ba­sic-Canyon Springs high school foot­ball game ended in a cloud of po­lice pep­per spray and a bliz­zard of so­cial me­dia com­ments. But no ar­rests were made, and it’s un­clear

whether play­ers in­volved will be dis­ci­plined.

The Clark County School Dis­trict’s po­lice cap­tain Satur­day de­fended an of­fi­cer’s use

of pep­per spray to dis­perse a crowd of play­ers and coaches. Whether play­ers in­volved will be pe­nal­ized — dropped from the team, sus­pended or ex­pelled — or teams will be forced to for­feit games is un­clear.

The postgame fight be­came a trend­ing topic on Twit­ter lo­cally and na­tion­ally. Video taken after Canyon Springs High School’s 20-15 win shows sev­eral Canyon

Springs play­ers scream­ing in pain as they walked back to their side­line.

Canyon Springs coach Gus McNair was sprayed, and his son was hit with pep­per spray and cried for sev­eral min­utes. Ba­sic play­ers and coaches also were tar­geted and flushed their eyes with wa­ter on the field be­fore de­part­ing to the locker room. No ar­rests were made after the in­ci­dent.

McNair, Ba­sic coach Jeff Cahill and ath­let­ics ad­min­is­tra­tors from both schools did not re­turn mul­ti­ple phone calls seek­ing com­ment. Bart Thomp­son, Ne­vada In­ter­scholas­tic Ac­tiv­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, did not re­spond to phone calls and emails.

‘Un­called for’

Ba­sic as­sis­tant coach David Gal­le­gos, who was taken to the ground dur­ing the scuf­fle, said the postgame brawl was “un­called for” and said “(the Canyon Springs) staff ran all the way across the field. By that point, we were try­ing to break it up, and it turned into a big mess.”

Added Gal­le­gos, who said he was stomped on and hit with hel­mets: “It turned out to be way big­ger than what it was. Next thing I know, ev­ery­body was sprayed, and that was it. It hap­pened that quick.”

Fri­day’s was the se­cond big fight fol­low­ing a lo­cal high school foot­ball game in 13 months. On Oct. 7, 2016, fights broke out in­side two Cen­ten­nial Hills restau­rants — Rais­ing Cane’s and In-N-Out — after Ar­bor View beat archri­val Cen­ten­nial 28-7 at Cen­ten­nial High School. One per­son was taken to the hos­pi­tal with mi­nor in­juries after that fra­cas.

On Satur­day, Canyon Springs Prin­ci­pal Greg Hunter de­clined to com­ment. But Ba­sic Prin­ci­pal Gerald Bus­ta­mante said both schools had hoped for a peace­ful end­ing to what mor­phed into a gra­tu­itously vi­o­lent game.

“We were hop­ing play­ers would just go their sep­a­rate ways,” he said. “We never want a fight to hap­pen, but we know it gets very emo­tional at games and we try to an­tic­i­pate that.”

Cause for ten­sion

Gal­le­gos said the teams had a dis­agree­ment be­fore their game last sea­son after Ba­sic coaches took is­sue with how Canyon Springs’ play­ers were drift­ing onto Ba­sic’s side of the field dur­ing warmups.

With that in mind, school of­fi­cials sep­a­rated the team’s buses on op­po­site ends of the high school cam­pus be­fore Fri­day’s game, Bus­ta­mante con­firmed. But the move failed to defuse any ten­sion.

The play­ers started brawl­ing near Ba­sic’s side­line im­me­di­ately after the game and fought for about 30 sec­onds be­fore po­lice in­ter­vened.

Dur­ing the game, ref­er­ees as­sessed 39 penal­ties, in­clud­ing 19 per­sonal fouls. Four Canyon Springs play­ers were ejected from the game dur­ing the se­cond half, in­clud­ing star quar­ter­back/run­ning back Dia­Mante Bur­ton.

South­ern Ne­vada Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mis­sioner Marc Rat­ner said his group is re­view­ing the in­ci­dent and did not pro­vide a timetable for any dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sions.

“I’ve talked to one of the of­fi­cials. I’ve talked to the school dis­trict, but it’s too early to make any de­ci­sions about any­thing,” he said. “We’ve got to look at a lot of things. We’ll try to get some stuff for the world on Mon­day or Tues­day … It’ll be all kinds of peo­ple in­volved. We’re just get­ting all the state­ments. It’s never good when we have th­ese prob­lems.”

Reper­cus­sions could in­clude for­fei­ture of Fri­day night’s game and an ad­di­tional game. The Canyon Springs play­ers who were ejected must sit out their next sched­uled game, too.

Bus­ta­mante said it’s too early to tell whether his in­volved stu­dents will face any dis­ci­plinary ac­tions such as sus­pen­sion or ex­pul­sion. The school’s foot­ball field is equipped with sev­eral sur­veil­lance cam­eras, and footage from them will be re­viewed start­ing Mon­day, he said.

Po­lice re­sponse

The Clark County School Dis­trict Po­lice Depart­ment, as of Satur­day morn­ing, was stand­ing by its of­fi­cer’s de­ci­sion to de­ploy the pep­per spray, and the uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cer had not been placed on administrative leave, Capt. Ken Young said.

“There’s noth­ing at this point that says he needs to be dis­ci­plined,” Young said. “For him to use the pep­per spray, that doesn’t make it an au­to­matic sus­pen­sion.”

The Hen­der­son Po­lice Depart­ment con­firmed Satur­day its of­fi­cers were not in­volved in the in­ci­dent.

Bus­ta­mante said im­ages and video cap­tured and shared on so­cial me­dia sen­sa­tion­al­ized the fight.

“It’s very un­for­tu­nate,” he said, “but I think what was cap­tured on videos prob­a­bly made it seem like a big­ger deal than it was.”

A video of the in­ci­dent posted on the Las Ve­gas Re­view-Journal’s Face­book page was viewed more than 22,000 times and drew 164 com­ments by Satur­day af­ter­noon. Com­menter Lizzie Gutierrez wrote, “They should’ve called the game. My boys both had games called be­cause of the be­hav­ior and fight­ing be­tween the play­ers. When a game starts out that way there’s never a good end­ing.”

Martin A. Mlezco wrote, “No ex­cuse for this type of be­hav­ior by the play­ers or any­one else! This is a game that should be teach­ing sports­man­ship and not a life chang­ing event.”

A Ba­sic stu­dent who at­tended the game and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity said spec­ta­tors were “sur­prised but more mad that it kind of hap­pened.”

“Ev­ery­body kind of ex­pected to be mad that we lost, it was our home­com­ing game,” he said. “We didn’t ex­pect a fight.”

An­gel Juarez Las Ve­gas Re­view-Journal @ja­juarezphoto

A Clark County School Dis­trict po­lice of­fi­cer holds pep­per spray after break­ing up a brawl be­tween Canyon Springs and Ba­sic high schools.

A Ba­sic foot­ball staffer flushes his eyes after be­ing pep­per-sprayed by a po­lice of­fi­cer after a brawl be­tween the Canyon Springs and Ba­sic high school foot­ball teams at the end of a game Fri­day at Ba­sic High School in Hen­der­son.

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