The Florida High School Athletic Association has decided not to take action against Countryside’s football program for an on-field celebration involving the 24 seniors on the team in the final two minutes of last week’s season finale against St. Petersburg.
The incident came a day after the FHSAA’s Section 3 Appeals Committee declined to restore the eligibility of quarterback Christian Strong or the forfeiture of six games that Strong played in while he was ineligible. The FHSAA also upheld the $2,300 fine and two-year administrative probation for the school’s athletic program.
Justin Harrison, the FHSAA’s supervisor of officials, said the association decided not to administer any more penalties for the on-field celebration because the school did enough on its own. Harrison said Countryside withdrew an additional appeal before the FHSAA board of governors to have Strong’s eligibility and the forfeited games restored. Countryside administrators also wrote a letter of apology to St. Petersburg for the incident.
“We felt there was significant action on the school’s part to take the necessary corrective action,” Harrison said.
The incident occurred with 2:09 remaining in last week’s game and the Cougars leading 37-7. According to the official’s report, “there were more than 20 Countryside players on the field. And then they started dancing and yelling at the St. Petersburg players. Some of the dances were ‘suggestive’.They continued even after my crew told them to leave the field. The St. Petersburg players did not respond and stayed on their side of the neutral zone.”
The officials flagged Countryside twice for unsportsmanlike conduct. No player or coach was ejected. According to the report, the officials approached Countryside coach Jared Davis after the incident.
Davis’ response: “I’m not trying to make a travesty of the game.”