FLORA ― Three coaches of the Flora Junior Football League team resigned on Thursday night, as reaction continued to build concerning an ugly late-game incident against Mount Carmel last Saturday, and a rather muted apology from coaches three days later.
The move was announced on the Junior Wolves' Facebook page just hours after their JFL opponent for this week, Olney, had decided to not play the game in protest.
According to the statement released Thursday, “with heavy hearts, Flora JFL has accepted the resignation of coaches Brandon Helm, Nathan Vaughn and Scott Vaughn."
With a little more than one minute to play in Flora's 52-42 loss at Mount Carmel on Saturday, a Wolves defensive player came streaking toward the Junior Aces front line before the snap, striking lineman Thomas Stringfellow in his stance and knocking him unconscious.
Stringfellow, after regaining consciousness, was later removed from the field by ambulance and immediately airlifted to an Evansville hospital, where he remained overnight. He was allowed to return home Sunday, and was greeted by a large, sympathetic crowd gathered at Wabash Valley College. Stringfellow continues to wear a neck restraint, and will not return to the field this season.
Initial reports indicated that representatives from both teams would meet with league officials early in the week. While still other unsubstantiated reports indicated that as many as four future opponents on the Flora schedule would cancel their games with the Wolves.
The opposition mounted quickly after Flora coaches released a text statement Tuesday that many around the league believed was too tepid an apology. In the statement, the player's movement prior to the snap was termed “inching” toward the line of scrimmage, even as the video seemed to indicate otherwise.
“The coaches did not take the decision lightly,” the Flora prepared statement went on to read. “The coaches are taking the responsibility of the hit that resulted in the hospitalization of the Mount Carmel player.”
Olney is believed to be the only school to cancel its game with Flora. Whether the resignations will be enough to placate other schools in the league remains to be seen.
According to the statement, “the remaining coaching staff are working hard to salvage the rest of the season. Thank you for your support during this difficult transition.”
No penalty was called by officials on the play. After several minutes of work by paramedics to stabilize Stringfellow, the game was called off and ruled final.
Mount Carmel is scheduled to host Robinson on Saturday, with the sixth grade game beginning at 5 p.m. followed by the seventh-eighth grade game to follow.