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September 5, 2013

Coaches suspended, teams fined after postgame fight

CULLMAN, Ala. — Two coaches from rival Alabama high schools have been suspended and their teams fined after a postgame fight last week that left one coach visibly bruised and bloody.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association ruled Thursday that Cullman High School assistant coach Matt Hopper and Walker High School head coach John Holladay are suspended for the rest of the year. Holladay resigned earlier in the week.

Both teams have also been fined $1,500, and Walker has been banned from participating in the state playoffs this year.

Friday’s postgame brawl made national headlines this week, thanks in part to video of the fight and photos showing Hopper being pulled from the fray with a torn shirt and a bruised, bloodied face.

Video by a Jasper, Ala., television station showed Hopper approaching Holladay after Cullman’s come-from-behind 13-10 victory. The two appeared to have a heated exchange, and then Holladay hit Hopper. The pair was quickly enveloped by players, coaches and police officers.

In a statement, AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said the group encourages the two schools to work together “to enhance relations between their student-athletes and communities,” and foster good sportsmanship.

The fight was the latest in several years of bad blood between the rival programs. Last season when the two teams met in the playoffs, a near-brawl late in the fourth quarter led to Cullman avoiding the postgame midfield meeting and sprinting straight to the locker room. 

Details for this story were reported by The Cullman (Ala.) Times.

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