Residents react to suspended Mechanicsville high football season

JV and varsity programs postponed pending investigation into allegations of assault among players
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 8:47 PM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - The Mechanicsville High School Mustangs are beginning their football season with a forfeit. This comes after a tip to the sheriff’s office about upperclassmen allegedly assaulting other players.

A spokesperson with the school division confirmed on Wednesday that it was alerted by the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office of these concerns, which were reported anonymously, on Friday evening.

The spokesperson says that immediate action was taken by suspending all football practices, which remain in effect while the investigation takes place.

This means for the time being that all JV and varsity football programs are canceled until further notice.

For Mechanicsville native Kristin Griffin, Friday nights at Mechanicsville High just won’t feel the same with the lights off.

“This parking lot would be packed with alumni, current staff, current students,” Griffen said. “It’s nothing to drive by out here and see the player practicing for the big game.”

She attended the high school back when it known as was Lee Davis, but even after the recent name change to Mechanicsville High School, Griffen says the energy at the football games never changed

“We had our faces painted and it was just a really good time,” Griffin said. “Not having a season right now is really going to dampen the community.”

A spokesperson with the school division they have been fully cooperating with the sheriff’s office from the outset of its investigation.

Parents who first reached out to NBC12 believe this was the best move.

“I support that decision fully until we find out what happened, when did it happen and what could be done to prevent that,” said a parent of a player who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s perfectly understandable that the school system can’t give out a lot of details. All we’re asking is what has happened in the grand scheme of things.”

Griffin says she agrees, but hopes after the investigation there will still be a season left to salvage.

“I do hope for the school, staff, the players, and their families, that they will get to have some type of season, whether it’s a full season or a partial season because these players do work hard in their sports,” Griffin said.

According to the Virginia High School League, high school coaches must take part in a Coaching Education Mandate, which must be completed within two years of a coach’s hiring. The seven-part course includes completing the child abuse training course offered by the Virginia Department of Education.

The Mustangs’ coach Shane Reynolds was hired at the beginning of the year. NBC12 has reached out to the school division to see if Reynolds has completed this, but at this time the school division says it needs more time to respond.

“While, again, we are very limited in what we can share given the ongoing investigation, we can share that the safety and well-being of our students is of the utmost importance,” a school division spokesperson said. “That is our top priority. Although we do not yet know what the investigation will reveal and the outcome will inform what next steps may be necessary, we understand that this news is upsetting to our students, families, and staff. As we move forward, we will work to establish a positive, supportive culture for the entire football program.”

As for the Mustangs’ season, they will have to continue forfeiting games until a decision is made for the rest of the season. According to the VHSL, a school has a few options if an opponent decides not to play the game:

  • Accept the forfeit
  • Reschedule the game to play a 10-game schedule. They cannot accept the forfeit since you can only have a max 10-game schedule
  • Accept the forfeit, but play a 9-game schedule

Mechanicsville High School had to forfeit its season opener against Deep Run High School scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Mustangs’ next scheduled home game is against Varina High School on Sept. 23.