Hempfield stuns McKeesport in opener
Rich Bowen knew, with his reputation for rapid-fire turnarounds, expectations would be high when he took over a struggling Hempfield football program.
That being said, no one could have expected his Spartans to do what they did at Wiegle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium in their season opener against McKeesport.
Hempfield (1-0, 1-0) was virtually unstoppable in its newly installed spread-option offense as it blew through the highly touted McKeesport (0-1, 0-1) defense at will en route to a 33-18 upset victory over the Tigers. It was the first time the Spartans defeated McKeesport since the two began playing in the same conference in 2008 and the Tigers had won the previous four meetings by a combined score of 174-19.
“One win does not prove anything, but I told them to enjoy this and get ready for Latrobe next week,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “This is a big win or our program to have come to this in such a short amount of time, we're just thrilled.”
What should have been a night of celebration for Hempfield was marred by an ugly incident late in the third quarter.
Immediately after Hempfield took a 33-12 lead on a 54-yard fumble return by DeLorian Day, McKeesport's Devon Anderson answered with an 86-yard kickoff return for a score. While Anderson got the Tigers back to within 15, a fight broke out behind the play between Shawn Miller of Hempfield and McKeesport's Mikell Moore.
“I was just watching our player running down the sideline and I heard something and I saw their player and our player kind of went at it and the referee got in there and kind of rolled off and we tried to separate them,” McKeesport coach Jim Ward said. “I heard that the referee got hurt and I called to check on him and I hope he's okay.”
When the two began throwing punches, referee Bob Boyd waded in to break things up, but was hit in the head and knocked to the ground where he lay on his back for several minutes before being taken from the field on a stretcher and moved into an on-site ambulance. Boyd was reportedly coherent in the am balance, but was taken to UPMC McKeesport for further testing and observation.
“It was unreal and I was watching the touchdown and I saw the official on the ground. Then I saw our kids start (off the sideline) so I just got out (onto the field) and stopped our kids,” Bowen said. “I thought both sides did a good job controlling it and keeping it from escalating. I've known Bob Boyd for a long time and my heart goes out to him.”
While Boyd was on the field, Miller and Moore remained engaged and both benches moved onto the field before Bowen and Ward regained order and got the players back onto their respective sidelines without further incident. Moore was ejected and was sent to the McKeesport locker room while Miller remained on the Spartans sideline and did not return to the game.
Because of WPIAL and PIAA ejection rules, Moore will be suspended for the Tigers next game at Woodland Hills. There is also the possibility that the school will have a disciplinary action of its own ready when classes begin on Tuesday.
“I can't comment on that at this time,” Ward said. “We'll deal with it (Saturday) and in the next couple of days.”
The McKeesport Area School District released a statement late in the evening regarding Boyd's condition. According to the release, early indications report a slight to mild concussion and a possible ankle injury.
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.