E.A. Sports Today

Hamby not happy

Tensions spill over at Piedmont-Weaver playoff game at the end of an intense week that included an accusation of an illegal player

Weaver football coach Daryl Hamby extends a hand at midfield as he awaits a post-game handshake that never came. (Photo by Daniel Lee)

Weaver football coach Daryl Hamby extends a hand at midfield as he awaits a post-game handshake that never came. (Photo by Daniel Lee)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT – Weaver football coach Daryl Hamby made the usual walk to midfield Friday night after his Bearcats lost to Piedmont 52-28 in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.

As he approached the 50, he was out there alone. Across the field were the Bulldogs, most of them on one knee huddled around their coach, Steve Smith, who talked to his players as if nothing had happened.

To many of the Bearcat faithful in the crowd this seemed to be a display of disrespect. In reality, it was a sign of something much deeper that didn’t rise to the surface until that exact moment.

Earlier in the week, an accusation was leveled against the top-ranked Bulldogs that they have an ineligible player on their roster based on a breach of the AHSAA’s transfer rule. White Plains officials contacted Weaver about the possible violation and protocol dictates the Bearcats contact the governing body to report what it had been told.

Weaver principal Mike Allison, a former college teammate of Smith’s, said he called Piedmont and the AHSAA; he didn’t take an accusatory tone and hoped “there was nothing to it and we can move on.” Hamby after the game laid out his feelings without hesitation.

“I’m sick of these schools that do this kind of stuff and get to recruit,” he said. “They got four players from Pleasant Valley, four players from White Plains, and they want to act like they are high and mighty. Are you kidding me? I served 24 years in the military to make this country free; I’m going to speak my mind. And if they don’t want to do anything about it, that’s fine I don’t need him (Steve Smith) as my friend.”

Sources familiar with the situation told East Alabama Sports Today earlier in the week Piedmont had received a letter from the AHSAA requesting it answer the allegation within three days, time enough to make any ruling that could affect the playoff structure. When contacted by EA Sports Today on Wednesday, Piedmont principal Dr. Adam Clemons said he had not received anything from the AHSAA. A subsequent Open Records request to obtain a copy of any such letter received no response.

On Thursday, EA Sports Today was told the matter had been resolved without any action taken.

“He (Smith) is mad because we got a notification that they had an illegal player, so we checked it out,” Hamby said. “It is our duty to check that out. Look, I have enough friends, and I don’t need him as one, that’s fine.”

Smith did not address the allegation or Hamby’s charges directly with reporters after the game. He was quick to point out, however, he was looking out for his team as the clock wound down and nothing else as he tried to protect them from any post-game complications that may have arisen.

“I just felt like with the way the game was transpiring there at the end, and you have one team playing with nothing to lose and the other with everything to lose, we just made a coaching decision that was probably best in that situation just to stay on our sideline and not have any chance of anything escalating,” Smith said.

Throughout the game, many could feel something was amiss between these two county rivals. Weaver came out quickly, opening a 14-0 lead on a 90-yard Maurice Goodman kickoff return and a Tyrik Hall run.

But Piedmont rallied, chipping away and eventually separating itself from the Bearcats. That’s where the on-field antics started to escalate well beyond good-willed gamesmanship.

Piedmont attempted 2-point conversions with leads of 24, 32 and 31 points when many thought the game effectively over. Also, throughout the game both teams engaged in antagonizing behavior that led to different penalties being assessed.

A late, incomplete deep pass by the Bulldogs seemed to add fuel to the fire and send the end of the game into a whirlwind of animosity after the final whistle blew.

“We know they are a good team and are well-coached,” Hamby said. “Their size caused us problems and their depth also. They can do 1s-vs.-1s which is pretty odd for a 3A school to be able to do.

“I care about Weaver,” Hamby said. “I have no ill-will towards them. I just want to worry about my guys; that’s all I really care about.”

Along with the on-field tension, off-field tension also was mounting. The Bulldogs had to cross through a crowd of Weaver fans to get to their locker room with harsh words flying from many different angles. It reached a point where the police escort around Smith started deterring people from being near him while trying to calm the words of some fans displeased with his post game actions.

When asked about the multiple late-game two-point conversion attempts Smith said, “I’ll leave that for somebody else to explain.”

Weaver's Dalton Hamby (12), Piedmont's Logan Smith and the ball converge on the same spot Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Weaver’s Dalton Hamby (12), Piedmont’s Logan Smith and the ball converge on the same spot Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Weaver's Tyrik Hall (1) leads three Piedmont defenders down the field Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Weaver’s Tyrik Hall (1) leads three Piedmont defenders down the field Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Cover photo: Weaver coach Daryl Hamby (R) was none too pleased after Piedmont coach Steve Smith didn’t reciprocate the post-game handshake. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos) To see more of B.J. Franklin’s photo

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