Mechanicsville High School returns to football field after investigation

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 10:43 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 11:12 PM EDT
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MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - Mechanicsville High School had its first varsity football game of the season on Friday after two teens were charged in a hazing incident last month.

The Mustangs took on Douglas Freeman High School in Henrico.

While families said Friday night that they were happy to be moving forward finally but still felt the season opener was different from years past.

“You know, it’s your first night on someone else’s home turf,” Bryant Payne, a parent, said. “But like I said, we’re just out here ready to play football and move on.”

Parents told NBC12 that when they heard what happened back in August, they couldn’t believe it and are still thinking about the victim and their family.

“We were really upset for the kids. If it was our kid, we’d be very upset. And in the same perspective, if our kid was involved, we’d be very upset,” Jamie Miller said. “But it’s just heartbreaking.”

“We feel bad about the victims involved, and you know, even the kids, all the kids involved,” Payne said. “But we just want to have a positive environment and move on and play football now.”

Ahead of last Friday’s practice, players and parents met for a team meeting to discuss where the future of the program would go.

“It was straight to the point,” Payne said. “It was just, you know, we’re gonna move on in a positive way and learn from our lessons and move on.”

A new requirement is that each player undergoes a two-week anti-hazing course.

With one week down already, parents say they support it.

“I think every sport should have to do it, whether there’s been an issue or not,” Miller said. “You know, whether it’s going to happen here or it’s going to happen later in life, let’s learn now.”

NBC12 asked school principal Charles Stevens and school board member Steve Ikenberry, who were both at the game, how they felt about the return, but both denied to comment.