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Southern Section to Review Film of Fight at Burroughs

December 16, 1987|VINCE KOWALICK | Times Staff Writer

Southern Section officials will review a videotape of a 10-minute brawl that concluded Saturday night's Northwestern Conference championship football game between Burroughs and Arroyo Grande highs, according to Southern Section administrator Dean Crowley.

"I want to see what their reaction to it is," said Arroyo Grande Principal Douglas Hitchen, who will supply the tape. "I'm sure they will make the necessary contacts with Burroughs and say that they are not very pleased with it."

Crowley, Southern Section associate commissioner, said that officials have agreed to view the tape for "overt actions that could cause injury or endanger someone's safety.

"We want to know if anybody was hurt and, if so, how serious," Crowley said. "Or, was it just another fight in a high school football game?"

Crowley said Southern Section officials might recommend that school administrators take disciplinary action against players involved.

According to Hitchen, the tape, which was shown on two television news programs in Arroyo Grande, reveals that Burroughs players started the fight. The brawl began after Arroyo Grande quarterback Jamie Martin smothered the ball to run out the clock in Arroyo Grande's 15-10 win at Burroughs High in Burbank.

Don Roberts, a commentator for an Arroyo Grande radio station that broadcast the game, said the fight began when a Burroughs player threw a punch at an Arroyo Grande player.

"As I saw it, the whole thing was started by Burroughs, who threw the first punch at Jamie Martin while he was downing the ball," Roberts said. "The film clearly shows that."

Burroughs Vice Principal David Jackson said that Burroughs' film of the game is inconclusive as to the identity of the instigator. Burroughs Coach Butch McElwee denied that the fight was started by a Burroughs player.

"If they're going to put the blame on us, I'm not going to accept it," McElwee said. "It was a typical high school football fight. Both teams were at fault."

Hitchen insists that Arroyo Grande was not responsible for starting the fight.

"Have you ever seen a football team win a game," Hitchen said, "and then start a fight?"

Both coaches gave conflicting reports of players being pinned to the ground while being kicked by other players. The fight, which led to skirmishes among fans and players, ruined the awards presentation ceremony that would have celebrated the first championship in Arroyo Grande's 94-year history.

"There was no ceremony," said Crowley, who was at the game. "The fracas disrupted it completely." Crowley said he didn't see how the fight began.

Arroyo Grande Coach Jon Huss, who coached at Hoover High during the late '70s, said that the incident was typical of Burroughs players.

"Burroughs has always been known as the bullies of Burbank," he said. "Ask anybody in that league and they'll tell you that. My wife was sitting right next to someone who said 'Oh, no, here it comes--Burroughs trying to steal their moment.' "

McElwee admitted that Burroughs has a reputation for exhibiting poor sportsmanship. Earlier this season, La Canada Coach Nic Larez accused Burroughs of running up the score in a 37-7 playoff win. But McElwee takes offense at accusations that his team plays dirty football.

"We are not the cheap-shot artists that everyone says we are," McElwee said. "I told the kids from Day One that we were going to eliminate the kinds of things that have gone on here in the past."

McElwee, in his first season as head coach, led Burroughs to a second-place finish in the Foothill League and to its first championship game since 1981. Jackson said the incident Saturday night was Burroughs' only fight of the season.

"In the 16 years I've been here," Jackson said, "I can count the football fights that Burroughs has been involved in on one hand."

McElwee claimed that the fight was enhanced by fans who entered the field from Arroyo Grande's side of the field.

"I'm not saying that they were all Arroyo Grande people," McElwee said. "But there was a whole bunch of people without uniforms. I know that our defensive end, Scott Pavkovich, got blind-sided by one guy."

McElwee said that Burroughs might offer its own film to the Southern Section office.

"I know there was some action on their part that would constitute a look," McElwee said. "It was a highly competitive game and both sides got frustrated. I'm just sorry it ended the way it did."

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