Coach Facing Assault Charges | Two Maryland High School Football Programs Remain Suspended After Melee Last Weekend

Last weekend in Maryland an  on-field brawl between Northwest and Gaithersburg high schools took place. During the third quarter of the game, players on the field got into a fight, and the melee bled into the stadium among the spectators. Play was initially halted and then the remainder of the game was canceled with Northwest up 14-0 and declared the winner. Following the game both programs were suspended as Montgomery County investigates the incident.

Football is an inherently violent game, so it should come as no surprise when that violence turns into an actual fight or melee. We’ve seen it on every level of the sport. That it spilled over into the stands draws attention to the mania and “mob mentality” that surrounds sports at every level.

Gaithersburg’s athletics director William Gant filed an assault charge against Northwest’s coach Travis Hawkins.

Gant alleges that Hawkins struck him in the head and shoulder during the melee. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7. Hawkins, 31, has not been formally charged by authorities.
“I have seen several videos of the incident, and Mr. Hawkins does not look to be de-escalating the on-field actions,” Gant wrote. “He looks to be escalating the issue.”
If Gant’s allegations are true, an adult who should have been among the persons responsible for defusing and ending the situation in fact instigated. A trend that has become far too common in youth sports. If the adults who should know better don’t act right, how can you expect teenagers to act right?
Montgomery County has announced new countywide safety measures for athletic events that will go into effect this weekend. They include:
  • Students from the two participating schools must have a valid student I.D. to enter the event.
  • Any other “school-aged spectators” must be accompanied by an adult chaperone for the entirety of the game.
  • Reentry or entry after halftime is prohibited. Large gatherings outside of the stands are also prohibited.
  • Backpacks are prohibited.
  • Inappropriate behavior can lead to suspension from subsequent MCPS activities.

If further incidents occur and additional level of restrictions could be enacted according to the county. Including closing games to all spectators.

“We don’t want to go there,” said Jeff Sullivan MCPS director of systemwide athletics. “We’re not aspiring to a tier three. But we did want to share with our community that we have thought through this tiered process.”

Of course, nobody wants to go there, this is high school football. It’s supposed to be a fun event for the student body and something for the local community to rally behind.

But four juveniles and a 19-year-old man were charged with assault earlier this week according to police.

As both programs remain suspended, they will forfeit this week’s games as the investigation is still pending. It is also unclear what the status of Northwest’s coach Travis Hawkins is. His job future will likely depend on the merits of the assault charge filed by Gaithersburg’s athletics director William Gant.

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