Madison forfeits to Page after post-game celebration, Panthers alter homecoming plans

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By Randy Arrington

SHENANDOAH, Sept. 21 — On Monday, administrators at Madison County High School made a decision to forfeit all football games this week due to “unsportsmanlike conduct occurring in the locker room following the Madison-William Monroe football game” Friday night, according to a report on MadRapp.com. This includes the junior varsity game scheduled for today at Warren County, and Page County’s homecoming game this Friday night.

“Earlier today Page County High School was made aware of and supported Madison County in their decision to forfeit our scheduled game on Friday,” Page County High School athletic director Bill Simmons stated in a press release late Monday afternoon. “While it is a gain for Page County High School in our standings, it is a loss to the football community that this decision had to be made. Sportsmanship and integrity are of utmost importance in the development of young men and women and we commend Madison County for making this difficult decision.”

Friday night’s hard-fought, 26-24, win over neighboring Greene County rival William Monroe was Madison’s first win in football since November 2019. It was the first time the Mountaineers had defeated the Dragons in seven years. And they did it in dramatic fashion with a blocked field goal ran back for a score and then a last-minute touchdown to secure a two-point win.

In their post-game celebration, members of the Madison County football team made videos and posted them to social media in which music with obscene lyrics can be heard and derogatory comments were made about a former William Monroe player who died in a car accident in June while his family was vacationing in North Carolina.

MadRapp.com reports that head coach Larry Helmick was outside being interviewed by the media when the incidents occurred inside the locker room.

In a pre-game ceremony at William Monroe, Madison players had honored the memory of Josh Johnson when the Mountaineer captains walked to midfield carrying a banner. A few hours later, comments were made by Madison players on social media taunting the Dragons about their fallen teammate.

A team meeting was held Monday morning at Madison and school officials made the decision later in the day to forfeit all football games for the week.

“Our MCHS football program will use this week to restore the program to one that practices, plays, wins and loses with respect and dignity at all times,” the school division stated on Facebook. “We believe it’s important to foster these ideals in order to progress with a successful season for our Mountaineers.”

“Thank you to the Madison community for supporting our student athletes at this time and for partnering with us to model good sportsmanship at all activities and between all interactions with opposing teams and one another,” the school division’s statement continued.

Friday night’s forfeiture and subsequent game cancellation fell not only on homecoming, but also on the planned dedication of the “Buddy Comer Stadium at Panther Field.” PCHS has altered its plans for this week as follows:

• Moving the naming of the stadium after Buddy Comer to the next home game, Friday, Oct. 8 versus East Rockingham. Time remains 6:45 p.m.

• Replacing the homecoming football game with the Student Powderpuff Football Game followed by the Homecoming bonfire.

Student and parent tailgates are still allowed on Friday night from 5 to 7 p.m. We will have band, cheer and football presentations, and the recognition of our homecoming court starting at 7 p.m. followed by the Powderpuff game at 7:30 p.m. Bonfire will start at about 8:30 p.m.

• The homecoming dance will remain an outdoor event 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.

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PVN Sports was previously scheduled to broadcast the Page/Madison game. However, due to its cancellation, PVN Sports will now accompany the NFHS livestream of the Luray/Skyline game at Bulldog Field at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The PVN Sports crew will return to Panther Field on Friday, Oct. 8 for the East Rockingham game.

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