Whitehall dealing with melee fallout

The Whitehall Central School District will hold a special board meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday to add

The Whitehall Central School District will hold a special board meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday to address the status of varsity football coach Justin Culligan, who was fired on Monday after a melee between his team and Rensselaer at Whitehall on Saturday afternoon.

At the recommendation of Whitehall athletic director Keith Redmond, the referees called the game with six minutes left in the third quarter when a second brawl broke out.

At the time. the Railroaders were leading, 28-6, and it will stand as a victory for Whitehall because the game was called by referee Mark Cleveland for safety reasons. Whitehall clinched the Class D League championship with the win.

Culligan was fired on Monday, and district superintendent Elizabeth Legault, through a released statement, said she “respectfully requests the opportunity to reflect upon this internal matter as a school community.”

Whitehall is scheduled to play a crossover game against Holy Trinity at Catholic Central Friday night before beginning the Section II Class D playoffs against Canajoharie on Nov. 1.

Redmond said he is overseeing the football team, but not in a coaching capacity.

A group of about 50 students held a rally at the school on Tuesday asking for Culligan’s reinstatement.

“I spoke to him at length a couple times, and he’s been advised to let this ride and see what happens,” Redmond said.

The trouble started in the second quarter, when Whitehall, the ninth-ranked team in the state, and Rensselaer began shoving and brawling near the Whitehall bench.

Railroaders quarterback Justin Hoagland was tackled out of bounds, leading to shouting that escalated into a brawl as Rensselaer coaches ran across the field to intervene.

The officials flagged both teams for unsportsmanlike conduct, and a Rensselaer assistant coach was ejected for making contact with an official.

Rams head coach Joel Preston told the Glens Falls Post-Star that a racial slur was directed at one of his players.

“As I said before, it was a melee; there was a lot going on, but it was not a fight,” Redmond said. “There was a lot of pushing and shoving.”

Tempers did not cool off in the second half, and when another shoving match that led to the ejection of a Whitehall player occurred, Redmond suggested to the officials that the game be called.

No arrests were made, but state police were on the scene and directed the Whitehall team and fans to stay on the field for 15 minutes to allow Rensselaer to get to the locker room and then leave the campus.

The Rams play Taconic Hills on Friday night before beginning the Class D playoffs against Cambridge/Salem on Nov. 1.

Categories: High School Sports, News

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