Chip Chitwood, Sports Editor – Coach Elmer Bridgewood held a press conference yesterday to announce the penalties that were handed down by the State Secondary School Athletic Association. As a result of non-competitive activities at the recent state championship game, his entire team will be ineligible to play in the first game next season. The Fighting Possums will be forced to play that game with freshmen, effectively ending fans’ hope of winning the first ever season-opener in the program’s storied history. Athletic director Jack Swanson was overheard saying that he did not think the penalty would affect pre-season ticket sales.
At issue was a prank hatched by Possums quarterback Tony Johnson after a season ending loss at the hands of Barntown High. Johnson was set to lead his 1-7-1 squad against the Fighting Roosters, but he suffered an ACL injury while standing on the sideline during the opening kick-off. Star linebacker Robert “Tuff” Baxter was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected from the game. Word around the campus was that Johnson had become increasingly bitter as he watched the Roosters march through the playoffs.
In keeping with a longstanding Fighting Possums tradition, the team, accompanied by Coach Bridgewood, attended the state championship game featuring the Barntown Fighting Roosters and the Dry Gulch Travelers. Well before the game started, Johnson and his teammates were seen pouring bottles of clear liquid in water coolers in the Roosters’ locker room. SSSAA officials reported that their laboratory concluded that the liquid was a concoction known locally as “Walk Fast.” The home brew is widely used as a remedy for constipation.
The penalty may not signal the end of the case against the Possums. Ongoing investigations are reviewing an incident which occurred after the game, the details of which are sketchy. What is known is that several Roosters were injured after boarding the team bus to return home. Investigators determined that all the bolts fastening the seats to the floor had been removed and that they saw a snake curled in the back of the bus. SSSAA investigators are making inquiries regarding the identities of a sizeable crowd of high school boys seen running and laughing away from the bus while the game was still underway. Coach Bridgewood has refused to cooperate with the investigation.