Superintendents issue statements in face of social media storm
ALMONT — It was a wild ending to say the least.
Saturday’s Division 5 semifinal game between Almont and Detroit Denby at Walled Lake Central wound up being called off by game officials with 3:06 showing on the fourth quarter clock, due to an abundance of personal fouls which were whistled against Detroit Denby.
At the time of the stoppage, Almont was up by a 36-8 scoreboard count after dominating the contest from the opening snap.
Minutes later, the scene deteriorated with players from Detroit Denby and some fans, believed to be Almont supporters, squaring off with heated exchanges. Reportedly a shoving match broke out between an Almont High School band member and Denby player and, other witnesses said some Denby players threw shoes and helmets at Almont fans who had been taunting them. A Denby player reportedly claimed that racist comments were directed toward them by someone from Almont.
The police soon stepped in, working to keep fans and players from all sides separate.
Though there were several people detained following the incident, no arrests were made according to Oakland County police reports.
Detroit Denby Superintendent Nikolai Vitti issued the following statement when asked what internal investigation is being done and how the school is handling the incident.
“Before making any decisions regarding any possible disciplinary action, the school district (DPSCD) is awaiting the review of any conclusive evidence that demonstrates wrong doing by Denby’s administration, coaches and/or players. It is our understanding that Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players while leaving the field. We are looking forward to getting to the bottom of what occurred based on factual evidence.”
While there are diverse views being expressed and reported locally and in Detroit-area media, Almont Schools Supt., Dr. William Kalmar, issued a statement Monday morning explaining and acknowledging the incident.
“We are saddened that the incredible accomplishments of the Almont Raiders football team, including making it to our first State Finals, have been overshadowed by the regrettable behavior of a handful of spectators at Saturday’s game,” said Kalmar.
“We are fully investigating allegations that members of the Almont marching band taunted players from Denby High School while both groups attempted to exit the stadium after the game was called.
“If we find evidence indicating there was any taunting, those students will be disciplined appropriately. At this time we have no evidence of such behavior by members of our marching band, dance team, cheerleaders or student body.”
Kalmar added that there was no evidence of misconduct on the part of the Almont football team, its football coaches or staff.
That was also the opinion expressed by MHSSA official, Brent Shoemate, who offered some details about the incident in a post-game report.
“Almont displayed exceptional sportsmanship and composure during the semifinal contest with Detroit Denby High School,” said Shoemate. “Almont never retaliated or complained while they were receiving illegal hits from the opposing team, such as blocks in the back and blind-side blocks. “Maintaining their composure, Almont greatly helped the officiating crew maintain as much control as could be maintained in what was a difficult game to manage and officiate. “Almont should be commended and praised for their role in this game, and maintaining focus and sportsmanship.”
While the players conducted themselves admirably, Kalmar said the school is cooperating with authorities in attempting to identify spectators who may have aggravated the post-game confrontation by taunting Denby players while law enforcement officers were attempting to diffuse the situation.
“If any spectators can be identified as breaking the law, we will refer them to the appropriate authorities for prosecution,” said Kalmar.
“There is no circumstance in which it is appropriate for an adult spectator to interject themselves into a high school event.”