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Bench-Clearing Brawl Erupts After Football Game

Bench-Clearing Brawl Erupts After Football Game

Bench-Clearing Brawl Erupts After Football Game



November 15, 2023

Nate Seidenstein '24

As Taft lined up to kneel out a resounding victory against the Bearcats, Hotchkiss Varsity Football players seemed calm, if somewhat sad. Some Hotchkiss players shook hands with their rivals, some just took it all in. 

This moment was the culmination of four years’ work for some Seniors, and it was fading away quickly. For lowerclassmen the moment marked the loss of mentors and captains and the beginning of a long offseason before a return to action next fall. 

A low-scoring first half meant Hotchkiss entered the locker room trailing by one. Both Taft and Hotchkiss brought in first-half touchdowns. Taft made their extra point, but, because the Bearcats do not have a kicker, they attempted a two-point conversion, which was unsuccessful. The Rhinos exited the locker room and quickly pulled away in the third quarter thanks to a series of penalties, including a fifteen yard penalty on Hotchkiss for unsportsmanlike conduct, that took the Rhinos from 4th and 10 at midfield, to first down in the red zone. After two stuffs by the Hotchkiss defense, Taft’s quarterback rolled left, scrambling and appearing to cross the line of scrimmage, before finding a receiver open in the endzone.

Despite appeals from the Hotchkiss sideline for a penalty for illegal forward pass, the touchdown stood, and Taft shut out Hotchkiss in the second half, scoring seventeen unanswered and forcing multiple turnovers to take a 24-6 win. Quarterback Cam Holland ’24 was disappointed in the lack of second-half competitiveness. He said, “We weren’t able to execute towards the end. We didn’t score when we should have scored, and they played a great game.” 

After forcing another turnover on downs on a hail mary attempt late in the fourth quarter, Taft won back possession and lined up in victory formation, with just 30 seconds left in both teams’ seasons. The snap and ensuing kneel were as normal as they could be in a season-ending loss. 

Taft’s entire bench ran onto the field to join their team in celebration, converging on the H logo in the center of Sprole Field. This wasn’t the first time that Taft’s football team has caused trouble. They celebrated similarly two years ago, and, last year, picked up 13 personal fouls and four ejections. 

The Record reviewed footage of the livestream of the game to determine what happened next. Two Hotchkiss players ran out onto the field, in an attempt to deter Taft’s team from stomping on the Hotchkiss logo. Hotchkiss coaches immediately ran out in an attempt to separate the players. Taft fans too joined the scrum, running out onto the field, despite repeated warnings over the field’s PA system for fans to remain off the field. 

Hotchkiss fans remained on the sideline behind the team’s bench. As the shoving escalated into a brawl, more Hotchkiss players ran to midfield. From this point on, the feed pans away and the subsequent events are not clear. In the portions of video available, Taft’s coaches and administration were not seen taking an active role in seperating players or controlling their fans. 

After the initial melee was broken up, Taft’s team continued to yell at and taunt Hotchkiss players and fans. 

Once Taft players returned to their locker room, they banged on the windows at fans walking past—shattering a window in the away locker room. 

Head of School Mr. Craig Bradley said, “Mr. Peter Becker P’26, Taft’s head of school, and I were in touch about what happened [after the game.] We were both at the game, but neither of us could make clear sense of the details of what was happening on the field.” 

In the melee, it appeared that some punches were thrown—Mr. Dempsey Quinn, athletic director and head coach of Varsity Football, was allegedly struck—but the school has not yet been able to determine the exact course of events. 

Mr. Bradley said, “Taft’s athletic director [Andy Dunn] and Mr. Quinn are reviewing the video [of the incident] to better understand what happened and who was involved.” 

Mr. Andrew D’Ambrosio, dean of student life, said “I have been speaking with Mr. Quinn frequently since [the game],” and declined to comment further until after the review of the footage is complete. 

Mr. Bradley added, “Once we better understand those details, we will take appropriate next steps.” 

Hotchkiss players weren’t letting the ugly end to their final game ruin the end of the season. Holland said, “I love all of these kids like my brothers. I have no words.” 

Wide receiver and defensive back Rett Zeigler ’24 said, “They’re a bunch of my brothers, especially the Preps. I love every single one of them. They mean the absolute world to me.” 

—Sofia Clark ’27 contributed to this report.

Nate Seidenstein is an Editor-In-Chief for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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