WASHINGTON - The annual Turkey Bowl championship between D.C.’s top two high school football teams took on new significance this year. A brawl earlier this month led H.D. Woodson to play the game against Ballou with 17 players suspended.
Nine Woodson players appealed their punishment for the on-field fight against Eastern that took place on Nov. 11. However, school officials only overturned one of the player’s suspension.
It was an uphill battle all day long for Woodson on Thursday. With 17 players out and the team down to playing its third-string quarterback, Woodson would fall short against Ballou, 21-14.
The tone of the game was set early on with two quick touchdowns by Ballou. Woodson did its best with the players it had, fighting back with two interceptions and eventually two touchdowns of its own. However, the DCIAA title now belongs to Ballou after Woodson won it the last four years.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson stood by his decision of enforcing the suspensions of the Woodson players despite criticism from current council member and former mayor Vincent Gray.
"Sometimes when these type of things happen, there are people who have more to lose with that, and I think that is an important lesson that we want to make sure our students learn now – and that it’s important at all times to be in control of your emotions the best you can and when you find yourself heated, it is really important that you don't allow yourself to lose control," said Wilson.
"My issue has been a lack of fairness and equity involved in this,” said Gray. “You got kids who were suspended from Woodson who can't play in the Turkey Bowl today. Eastern's season is over. They are suspended for a game the next year. That means also you have kids who will graduate from Eastern High School in June and there will never be a consequence for what they did. So there should have been fairness and equity. They should have gone ahead and suspended kids from Woodson for next season as well and it would have been a much more fair and equitable outcome than what we have today.”