Football Brawl: Special-Needs Student In For One Ceremonial Play Gets Pummeled, Ignites Bench Clearing Brawl
Vincent Stover is a special-needs student at Mountain Ridge High School in Arizona, and in what was perhaps meant to be a Rudy like moment, his coaches put him in for a ceremonial play Friday night to fulfill his dream of playing under the lights on the fabled grid iron.
Unfortunately, the opposing team reportedly wasn’t aware of the situation or their players might have taken it easy on Vincent Stover so he could enjoy his moment.
That wasn’t the case, however, and when the ball was snapped, the tight-end playing opposite Vincent Stover’s defensive position lit into Stover and proceeded to steamroll the special-needs student backward for 20 yards before pile driving him into the turf of the end zone.
A bench clearing brawl ensued, resulting in many players being ejected from the game and both teams forfeiting to end their seasons, reports AZ Central.
The unfortunate Vincent Stover incident leading to the high school football brawl took place with about 10 minutes left in the game. Vincent Stover’s team, Mountain Ridge of Glendale, was sitting pretty with a 48-8 lead over North Canyon of Phoenix when Stover took up his defensive position in the Thursday night affair.
As seen in the video below, Vincent Stover appears to get off the ball quite well, engaging North Canyon’s tight end. But the battle quickly shifts in favor of the North Canyon player who stands Stover up and relentlessly drives him right off the screen and into the end zone. Quickly taking notice is a number 53, one of Vincent Stover’s teammates from Mountain Ridge, who takes off like an enraged grizzly bear toward the scene.
All heck broke loose shortly thereafter.
According to North Canyon coach, Cornelius Bowick, his player was heading back to the huddle when a Mountain Ridge player, apparently in defense of special-needs student, Stover, “blind-sided and speared” his player, and the brawl was on.
Bowick said that when Mountain Ridge sent Vincent Stover into the game to join Mountain Ridge’s defense, they had no idea he was a special-needs student and not just another player on the team. So his tight end blocked the player to the ground, said Bowick.
Not only could he not tell that Vincent Stover was a Mountain Ridge special-needs student, Bowick also said there was never any kind of notice or heads-up from Mountain Ridge, before or during the game, that a special-needs student like Stover was ever going to take the field.
“We just thought he was a regular football player. Our guy made a football play. They were booing, and we didn’t know why. One of their kids came out of nowhere and blind-sided our kid, and it sparked it big time … It’s pretty frustrating. It got out of hand fast.”
Once the players were finally separated and some semblance of order had been restored to the field, it was realized that there weren’t enough players to continue the game because most of them had been ejected for leaving the sidelines, resulting in forfeits for both sides, said Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Associate Executive Director Chuck Schmidt.
Schmidt said that the AIA was also trying to find out if Mountain Ridge had informed an official before or during the game that special-needs student Vincent Stover was going to be entering the game.
“We’re going to gather the information from both schools and go from there,” said Schmidt.
In a televised report by ABC15 Arizona on the football brawl sparked by the perceived unfair treatment of special-needs player, Vincent Stover, Stover’s mom said that, special-needs or not, no player should be subjected to the kind of play Stover was.
Vincent Stover, meanwhile, came away with a firm grasp of the silver lining surrounding the situation, saying, “that people will protect me… that if anything goes wrong, they have my back.”
[Image and video ABC15 Arizona and YouTube]