North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

September 5, 2013

Walker banned from football playoffs, Cullman put on probation after post-game brawl

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

— The AHSAA has lowered the boom on Walker High School's football program, banning the Vikings from the playoffs this season.

The association handed down disciplinary actions to Walker and and also Cullman high schools as a result of the fight between two coaches after their game Friday night.

Walker will be banned from post-season play — put on "restrictive probation," in formal terms — for their part in the fight. The ban comes partly because the Vikings were already on non-restrictive probation for an other incident last year. Cullman was placed on non-restrictive probation, since it was not currently serving any probation and had an otherwise clean record.

John Holladay, the Walker head coach who resigned earlier this week, and Cullman defensive coordinator Matt Hopper have been suspended for the rest of the football season. Both schools were also fined $1,500 each, which will be reduced to $1,000 if coaches and players "complete one professional development session administered by the AHSAA’s mentoring program," according to the AHSAA statement.

The action comes after Holladay and Hopper engaged in a brawl after the end of the Bearcats' 13-10 come-from-behind win Friday. The fight was recorded by a Jasper television station, with the video going viral on the Internet. Photos by photographer Jeff Johnsey of The Daily Mountain Eagle showed Hopper's bloodied and bruised face.

The AHSAA statement also said that Walker would have faced a post-season ban in 2014 if Holladay remained as head coach.

“The AHSAA encourages the two schools to work together to enhance relations between their student-athletes and communities and, in doing so, demonstrate the leadership necessary to foster the AHSAA’s mission of good sportsmanship in interscholastic athletics,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese in the statement.

The ban on the Vikings opens up playoff possibilities for other teams in Class 5A Region 6, which locally includes Pinson Valley, Mortimer Jordan, Hayden and Center Point.