Detroit Denby vs. Almont fracas probe to take weeks to separate 'fact from fiction'
Walled Lake — An investigation into a fracas at a Saturday high school state semifinal game could take “several weeks,” an Oakland County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Monday.
The game between Almont and Detroit Denby at Walled Lake Central High was called about three minutes from completion by referees due to rough play. Almont won the penalty-marred game, 36-8.
As teams left the field, remarks were exchanged between Detroit Denby players and the Almont school band and fans, according to witnesses, including Denby coach Deon Godfrey, who said his players were taunted after the game. Godfrey noted his players had 39 penalties called on them during the game compared to six penalties on Almont.
A confrontation between players and spectators was broken up by Sheriff’s deputies and other police, and teams were directed to their respective buses and off the property without further incident. Social media heated up over the weekend by postings of misinformation by supporters of both teams on what led to and followed the altercation, according to Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.
“It all remains under investigation but will involve many interviews of people who were there, reviews of any video that exists, and identification of the people who were involved,” said McCabe.
“We have to separate fact from fiction before anything moves forward.”
McCabe said so-called “witnesses” have posted “all kinds of allegations” of what occurred between players and others. But he insisted there were no reported injuries and no arrests of anyone, including players or coaches.
“We aren’t going to comment on any (allegations),” said McCabe. “This may take weeks to get to the truth.”
McCabe said five regular deputies and five reservists assigned to the game were assisted in quelling the after-game incident with the help of police from Walled Lake, White Lake and Wixom.
Detroit Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti provided The Detroit News with a statement that said: “Based upon preliminary findings, it is our understanding that Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players after the game while leaving the field. The disrespect toward the city, school, and players continued on social media after the game where Almont fans used numerous racist stereotypes. We look forward to getting to the bottom of what occurred based on factual evidence to determine the district’s next steps on how to best support our school and its administration, coaches and students.”
Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar issued a statement that lamented how the team’s accomplishments “have been overshadowed by the regrettable behavior of a handful of spectators. …We are investigating fully allegations that members of the Almont Raiders Marching Band taunted players from Denby High School while both groups attempted to exit the stadium after the game was called by officials. At this time we have no evidence of such behavior by members of our marching band, dance team, cheerleaders or student body.
“…We are cooperating with the authorities in attempting to identify those spectators who may have aggravated the confrontation by taunting the Denby players.”
The matter is also being reviewed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
Staff Writers David Goricki and Jennifer Chambers contributed.