Eighteen players from the Turkey Bowl-bound H.D. Woodson football team and seven players from Eastern were suspended for one game after an on-field brawl in their Nov. 11 game, D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced Wednesday.
Eastern's season is over as the Ramblers did not qualify for postseason play. Woodson, however, is set to play Ballou in the Turkey Bowl, the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association title game, on Thanksgiving Day.
The suspended players will not be eligible for that game against Ballou, Wilson said. Eastern's suspended players will sit out the first game of the 2018 season.
"I think emotions got carried away and students did some things they'd like to take back," Wilson said at a Thursday news conference. "Football is a contact sport, but we can't have fighting."
Woodson senior running back Mychale Salahuddin, who verbally committed to play college football at Southern California, was tackled well out of bounds after a carry in the first half. He shoved the Eastern defender after the play, and another pushed back. Players from the Woodson sideline converged on the group around the five yard-line.
After reviewing film of the altercation, DCPS athletic department personnel identified the players involved. Several other Woodson players who left the Warriors' bench area but did not participate in the scrum will not face discipline, Wilson said. He declined to name the suspended student-athletes, citing their right to appeal the school system's ruling.
"This decision is the unfortunate result of unsportsmanlike conduct," Diana Parente, DCIAA's executive director, wrote in a letter to Woodson students and parents. "The DCIAA staff, the H.D. Woodson High School football coaches, and DCPS officials are committed to working with the players involved to help prevent incidents like this in the future. The safety of our student athletes is paramount at all times."
The Turkey Bowl will be played at Eastern at 11 a.m. on Nov. 23.