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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 7 years ago

Foundation Academy coach suspended after post-game fight

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by: Steven Ryzewski Former Sports Editor

WINTER GARDEN — The Foundation Academy Lions rallied to a 24-20 win over the Trinity Prep Saints Oct. 24 in a come-from-behind victory capped by a defensive stand in the game’s waning moments.

But, as thrilling as the on-field actions were, it was what happened after the game clock read triple zeroes that has everyone talking.

A physical altercation between players from both schools followed the end of the game. The fight was broken up by coaches, administrators and off-duty law enforcement officers from both the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. 

Despite conflicting reports about what specifically transpired, what is agreed upon in statements released by both schools is that players from Foundation Academy tore down one of Trinity Prep’s banners that was hanging on the restroom building on the Saints’ side of the field.

That action angered the Trinity Prep players, who confronted the Foundation players.

Both schools characterize the altercation as short-lived, and no serious injuries were reported. But statements from both schools disagree regarding the other’s degree of involvement and severity in the incident. They also disagree on whether adults breaking up the altercation overstepped their boundaries.

During the breakup of the incident, a coach from Foundation allegedly struck an athlete for Trinity Prep. That coach has been suspended pending the outcome of both an internal investigation and an investigation by law-enforcement officials, Foundation stated in its release.

That coach has been described by Foundation Academy Director of Operation David Buckles as an assistant and not a teacher at the school. Buckles noted the accused coach was not head coach Brad Lord.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office public information officer said Monday the department had been contacted and was investigating the allegations relating to the coach but that the matter would take a few days to sort out.

Buckles noted that most of the allegations were subjective in nature and he did not expect formal charges to be forthcoming against his coach. Buckles stated Monday he believes the accused coach likely was breaking up the altercation along with other staff members and that a motion to separate players may have been misconstrued as a punch. 

There was also an allegation that a player from the Lions had been struck by a coach from Trinity Prep, but it does not appear that claim has been validated.

“I find it hard to believe that a coach on either side would deliberately punch a kid,” Buckles said.

The release from Trinity Prep stated that it had reported the incident to the Florida High School Athletic Association and that it was being fully cooperative with both the FHSAA and law enforcement investigating the matter. 

Foundation’s statement echoed that it, too, was cooperating fully with Trinity Prep, the FHSAA and law enforcement.

The Trinity Prep statement does not directly address the allegations that one of its players was struck by a Foundation coach but rather notes the school was “deeply troubled by this event.”

Foundation’s statement concludes with an apology.

“We sincerely regret any disrespect exhibited toward Trinity Prep by any of our players or coaches,” it read. “Foundation Academy is a Christ-centered school, which emphasizes and requires the highest level of good sportsmanship among its coaches, student-athletes, student body, faculty and staff. The unfortunate incident which ensued Friday night will be used as a learning opportunity for our Foundation family.”

Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].

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