Durham County

Was stopping this game the right thing to do? For the long-term playoff hopes, yes.

Game official separate players from Green Hope and Jordan. The game was stopped with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Green Hope Falcons visited the Jordan Falcons in a high school football game on Oct. 27, 2017. Green Hope won 48-20.
Game official separate players from Green Hope and Jordan. The game was stopped with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Green Hope Falcons visited the Jordan Falcons in a high school football game on Oct. 27, 2017. Green Hope won 48-20. newsobserver.com

A disappointing 48-20 home football loss by Jordan High to Green Hope could have spoiled the rest of the season had cooler heads not prevailed Friday night.

A fourth-quarter sideline incident that saw players from both teams shove one another was quickly de-escalated by coaches from tipping over into a full-on brawl. No players were ejected following the altercation. Had that occurred and more than three players from each team were ejected, it would have resulted in the teams being barred from participating in the upcoming state playoffs.

That’s what occurred last season in a game between Riverside and Cedar Ridge. A fight broke out between players in that game a year ago with Riverside leading late 20-3. Both teams were disqualified from playoff consideration as a result of multiple players being ejected following that skirmish. It certainly spoiled a winning season for Cedar Ridge, which finished 6-5, and kept the Red Wolves at home when they were in a position to make the playoffs.

But that wasn’t the ultimate outcome for Jordan and Green Hope.

After consulting with game officials, Jordan coach Anthony Barbour and Green Hope coach David Green thought it best to end the game early in the fourth quarter with Green Hope holding a commanding 28-point lead in the game at Jordan. It was a big decision because the Triangle 6 4-A Conference championship was on the line in the game.

Barbour said it was the right decision to end the game early.

“At that point in the game, it was pretty much decided,” Barbour said. “We didn’t want to take any chances that something else would happen and make the situation worse. We still have a lot left in our season and I am glad sportsmanship came through.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Green, whose team sewed up the conference title with the win.

“It was getting a little chippy,” Green said. “When Anthony came over, I agreed that it was the right thing to do. There was nothing to be gained from continuing the game.”

Neither coach had any inkling that the game would degenerate as it did. Jordan and Green Hope aren’t traditional rivals despite playing each other for the past four season as non-conference foes. This is the first year they’ve played as members of the same conference.

“When you have a rivalry game, you kind of know what to expect and what to talk about with your team going into the game,” Green said. “That’s not the case here but we still constantly address it with the kids going into every game. It’s a competitive sport and the kids still get hyped up. You just never know what might happen.

“I am just glad it didn’t end any worse than it did.”

So both teams averted crises and know they can finish up their regular seasons on Friday, Nov. 3 and plan for the playoffs.

Jordan (5-5, 3-1) is seeking its most wins since going 7-5 in 2010, which also is the last time the Falcons qualified for the playoffs.

This season has been quite a turnaround for the Falcons in Barbour’s second year with the team. Jordan went 1-10 last season and hadn’t won more than two games in a season since 2011. With a victory at Cary High on Friday, Jordan can post as many wins in one season as it had won combined in the last four years with six.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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