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Bluestone’s’ sideline scuffle may quash King of County game / September 04, 2019
The sideline scuffle that broke out between Bluestone and John Marshall in the Barons’ season opening loss on Friday night may have jeopardized the King of the County game scheduled for this Friday in Skipwith.

With three players out of action for the next two games, Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols said Bluestone may not have enough players to field a team for the annual matchup that pits the county’s two high schools against each other for gridiron bragging rights.

While no one is quite sure what touched off Friday’s on-field brawl, it’s believed that it started with a fight between a Baron wide receiver and a John Marshall cornerback near the Bluestone sideline.

The altercation quickly escalated after several John Marshall players piled on the Baron player near the Bluestone bench. Bluestone teammates responded, telling coaches they were simply defending their teammate.

Nichols said “no one was injured” during the melee, but it resulted in three Bluestone and several John Marshall players being ejected from the game, and Bluestone High School Principal Magie Wilkerson calling an end to the contest at halftime. Bluestone, which was trailing 14-0, took the loss.

Under Virginia High School League rules, the Bluestone players that were ejected on Friday will not be allowed to participate in the next two regular games. There may also be additional consequences meted out by the school division, though no determination has been made.

So far, the VHSL has not indicated plans to suspend the season for either team, but the high school sports governing body will be reviewing the game tape and will release any final decisions at the appropriate time.

Nichols said he’s not certain if the tape will shed any light on the incident. He already viewed the video and said it does not show the fight.

Nichols confirmed that Bluestone head football coach Harry John was reticent about having his team play John Marshall High School, out of Richmond. Last year when the game was first scheduled, John asked to have John Marshall removed from the Bluestone schedule, but then-Athletics Director Dan Powell overruled his request. Nichols did not say what prompted John to make the request or why Powell ignored it, only that the entire incident is under investigation.

Nichols dispelled one rumor circulating in the aftermath of Friday’s game, that John Marshall doesn’t play night games at their school due to a bad reputation on the football field. Nichols said the school does not have lights at its football field, therefore all home games are played during daylight hours.

Several deputies with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office — some of whom were at the game as parents and game spectators — assisted in separating players for the two teams and restoring order. Despite their presence at Friday’s contest, Major Terry Edmonds with the MCSO said that as of Tuesday, he had not seen any report on the incident and was not aware of any current investigation by law enforcement.

Even with all that happened on Friday night, one of the positives taken from the game was the talk by Neil Clayton Sr. to calm down the Barons football team. Clayton, a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office and father of Bluestone running back Neil Clayton Jr., spoke to the players about the importance of keeping their emotions in check. “I know you get frustrated,” he told the players on the field. “I get frustrated too, but do you see me out here taking them out on you, on the community? You’ve got to channel your emotions the right way.”

After he finished talking the team stood up to go thank him, and the crowd in the Bluestone stands started to cheer and clap.

Also helping to bring calm to a heated situation were BHS Principal Magie Wilkerson, assistant principal and acting athletics director Chris Clarke, game announcer George Lancaster and the Bluestone football coaching staff.

The question now is this: With an already-thin Barons roster saddled with the suspensions, will there be enough players left to field a team to even play Park View? As of press time, the King of the County game was still a go for Friday, but that could change.

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So after making the playoffs for the first time in school history, my beloved Barons have taken a drastic change in course. From almost yearly coaching turnovers, there was some sense of stability in the program until the previous staff was run off or chose to escape. Now we have a school that barely has enough players to field a team and an ugly on field fight that results in a loss and possibly forfeiting another game. Not much further for a team to sink, but then the head coach basically blames the previous AD for not taking the school off of the schedule. Waiting to see the results in all of this. Didn't Mecklenburg County suspend Parkview basketball season a few years ago for fighting?


This is just another example of the Bluestone and Mecklenburg County passing the buck onto other people instead of taking the blame on itself. These two teams met in a scrimmage last year and none of these altercations took place, so to say it is because of a scheduling problem by the former AD is ridiculous. A rough play happens, it's football, what the kids do is a direct reflection of the coach and how he handles his team. To piggyback off the previous comment, the former Baron coach who led the team to the playoffs for the 1st time in school history was let go "because of his lack of discipline" with his team, but I don't remember seeing any of this on the field when he was there. Bluestone is on another decline in football and maybe it's time we stop passing the buck on to people like the former AD we get rid of, or the principals we get rid off and still are going downhill. Maybe, just maybe, the root of the problem is coming from somewhere else within the school system


Yes, Park View's basketball team season was rightly ended early. Rough play happens, fighting and embarrassing choices made like what happened are a choice with consequences like loss of season or sports play for the remainder of the school year. Students live up to or down to one's expectations and the bar is set by site administration and the school board, normally with school board backing if the measure is strict and very much "this will not happen again." Sports programs that cannot live up to high academic and personal standards of conduct should be shutdown and the monies saved used to better the classroom environments putting student back in-front of athlete.


In this day and time, I would expect nothing less than to point blame on someone else, by those in leadership and those in the newspaper. Typical mentality by so many to run from their own responsibility and instead hide behind other people. The underlying concern is a lack of discipline and a lack of control from a coaching staff; a typical response of poor leadership who takes no ownership in responsibilities of coaching. Isn't it true John Marshall scrimmaged Bluestone last year with NO problems but rather a successful preseason contest? Isn't it true John Marshall is also in the same Region and could be an opponent throughout all sports on a yearly basis? It's a shame the former AD is the scapegoat. Take ownership. Real leaders do.


This is not a scheduling issue, but rather a coach and leadership issue. To blame the former athletic director is asinine. My question is how will the powers that be handle this situation? How will John be held accountable? If memory serves me right, the last football coach was fired/pushed out due to “lack of discipline.” A brawl never occurred on his watch. Seems to me their performance, their record, and the discipline was much more satisfactory under the past coach. Mecklenburg County needs to get it together before they don't have an athletic program.


The reason the last football coach was pushed out was due to the school board member whose son played for him. The board member did not like him and made it a point to get rid of him. Maybe we need to get rid of the board member?

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