South Central, Conley to remain in NCHSAA football playoffs

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GREENVILLE — There will be spots for varsity football teams from Winterville South Central at D.H. Conley in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association postseason.

Following an NCHSAA investigation from a postgame alteraction that broke out between the teams following the conclusion of their 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference championship game last week, the NCHSAA handed down fines and player suspensions to both schools, but each team retained their playoff eligibility.

According to a release from Pitt County Schools, several students were also banned from games for the remainder of the season after fans stormed the field following the conclusion of play, which contributed to the melee.

“It’s disappointing to have such a great game marred by the interactions between fans, players and coaches. We have been investigating internally at each school and cooperating with NCHSAA officials to determine the course of action and any discipline that may be handed down,” Pitt County Schools athletic director Ron Butler said.

Both head coaches, Nate Conner of Conley and Andy Tew of South Central, are also required to take the National Federation of High Schools Teaching and Modeling Behavior course before the next game. Conley and South Central administrators do not intend to appeal the NCHSAA’s ruling, the release said.

“We accept the decisions and are looking to move forward,” South Central athletic director Chris Cherry said.

South Central won the game 28-27, and the first round of the playoffs are scheduled for Nov. 16. Each team has a game scheduled for the extra regular-season week this Friday, with Conley visiting West Craven and South Central venturing to Hertford County.

“We have reviewed the penalties and have accepted them with no plans of appealing,” Conley athletic director Rob Maloney said. “We also plan to use this experience as a teachable moment for all of our student athletes, coaches and fans. In addition, we wish South Central the best of luck in the playoffs.”

Hunt and Fike were involved in their own postgame altercation following Fike’s 28-0 victory last week, a scene which caused Wilson County Sheriff’s deputies to deploy pepper spray. However, Wilson County Schools announced Monday that it was ending the season for both teams. Hunt had one regular-season game remaining and both teams were eligible for the playoffs.