Northern Virginia officials yesterday looked for ways to ensure security at school athletic events after several students were injured Friday night leaving a football game between Arlington's Wakefield High and Falls Church High in Fairfax County.
In the incident at least six Wakefield students and one assistant coach received facial cuts and minor head or eye injuries when teen-agers pelted Wakefield buses with rocks, shattering windows and windshields, according to students and officials who were on the buses. No arrests have been made in the case, police said yesterday.
The clash follows a rash of other incidents throughout the Washington area in which students have been injured or assaulted during or after high school games.
Fairfax police are currently investigating the rape of a Fort Hunt student that occurred in a school bathroom during a night game there Oct. 3 with Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School. And Prince George's County officials last month began considering banning night games after fights erupted between students at rival schools there.
"It's a disgrace that we can't compete in athletic events without having some aftereffects," Arlington School Board member Frank Wilson said yesterday.
Officials at both schools yesterday said they did not know what prompted the Friday night incident, and emphasized there was no history of enmity between the schools. "They're not bloodthirsty rivals by any means," said Falls Church student activities director John Hollowell.
"It was just shabbily handled," said Wakefield assistant coach Richard DeJerf, criticizing what he said was insufficient police security at the game.
A Fairfax police spokesman said yesterday that the number of officers assigned to oversee school events is based on requests by school officials. Falls Church principal Edward J. Ryan said that four officers were on hand during and after the game.
Arlington schools require that at least six officers be present at football games, according to Ed Wilson, Wakefield athletic director.
Arlington's Wilson and the Wakefield coaches said they expect the issue to be discussed by regional athletic groups, but officials from both schools said it would be premature to talk of banning night games in the counties. Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School switched from night to day games several years ago after unruly students caused problems at night games.
"The safety of our students is a paramount concern at all times," said Katherine Hanley, who represents the Falls Church area on the Fairfax School Board. "I would not want us to respond inappropriately. You've got to be sure that any kind of new policy solves the problem."
Falls Church principal Ryan said he plans to offer a reward for information about the identification of any students involved in the clash and will request that in the future police escort the buses of guest schools until they have cleared the area.
Friday's disturbance occurred around 10:30 p.m. as seven buses carrying Wakefield students, the team and band pulled out of the parking lot at Falls Church High at 7521 Jaguar Trail and headed onto Route 50, according to Fairfax police.
A group of about 40 teen-agers suddenly began chasing the buses, after the Wakefield Warriors' 16-to-6 loss to the Falls Church Jaguars, according to students and officials. Fairfax police said that at least six young males threw rocks at the buses.
"What came through the windows last night were baseball size or better," Wakefield coach Jim Huffschmitt said yesterday.
"I didn't know what had happened. All of a sudden something just went through the window and I covered my face," said Cecilia Woo, a 15-year-old Wakefield cheerleader who was hit in the eye by a rock thrown through a bus window. Woo and the six other injured persons were taken to a nearby fire station and then to Fairfax Hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.
Falls Church High officials said they learned of the incident only yesterday, although many were on hand at the annual homecoming game, which attracted about 2,500 students and parents. Principal Ryan said his staff noticed nothing unusual during the game or immediately afterward and that police were still on the school grounds when the incident broke out, apparently just off the campus.