The Alabama High School Athletic Association has banned the Vikings from participating in the postseason in 2013.
The AHSAA handed down punishment related to a fight between coaches that occurred on the field following last Friday’s Walker-Cullman game.
Walker High School was placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the 2013 football season while Cullman was placed on non-restrictive probation for one year.
Restrictive probation limits the school’s football team to participation only in regular-season games and prohibits the school from participating in the playoffs. Cullman is eligible for the postseason.
Both teams were fined $1,500 for flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct. Former Walker head coach John Holladay and Cullman defensive coordinator Matt Hopper have also been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season due to their involvement. A second year of restrictive probation will be assessed to Walker High School if Holladay is the school’s head football coach. If not, the school is assessed a one-year probationary period for the 2014 season that is non-restrictive.
The AHSAA didn't discipline any players.
The fight occurred after Cullman's last-minute 13-10 win over the Vikings. The Bearcats scored the game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left on the clock. Following the game, both teams headed to their respective locker rooms instead of shaking hands. As players left the field, Hopper approached Holladay. After a brief verbal exchange, Holladay punched Hopper and pulled him to the ground. Assistant coaches and police officers eventually separated the two. Hopper appeared bruised and bloodied after the incident.
Holladay resigned as Walker's head coach on Tuesday, four days after the brawl.
“Walker High School is very saddened by these events and accepts these penalties,” Walker Principal Gary Boling said in a statement. “We apologize for the behavior that was exhibited and pledge to emphasize and put into place the measure necessary to prevent this kind of behavior in the future by a Walker High School student, coach or teacher.
“Again, we want to assure everyone that we take these matters seriously and regret that the incident has cast a negative light on Walker High School, Cullman High School and the state of Alabama. We see this as an opportunity to provide a positive learning experience for all concerned.”
Walker High School was already on non-restrictive probation for a flagrant unsportsmanlike incident during the 2012 season that resulted in a warning. Going if a similar incident occurred during that probationary period, restrictive sanctions would be assessed. Last year’s incident occurred in a second-round playoff game, also against Cullman.
The AHSAA recommended that both school's football players and coaches complete one professional development sessions administered by the AHSAA’s mentoring program. If so, the $1,500 fine for each school will be reduced to $1,000.
Walker won the Class 5A, Region 6 championship last year, its first region title in more than a decade. The Vikings were a perfect 7-0 against region foes last season.