Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- The Berkshire Kings couldn’t put up a fight during their football game against the Southern Vermont Storm.
So they put up a fight with their fists, instead.
At the end of the third quarter in Saturday’s game, the Storm’s Mike Waters had just returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown. Waters turned around to celebrate with his team, only there was nobody around.
Back at the line of scrimmage, a fight had broken out. It started with players from both teams and from there, it escalated into a fight between the lines. Then, all hell broke loose.
Both sidelines cleared. Fists were thrown, helmets ripped off, people tossed to the ground. Roughly 40 players gathered at midfield and had an all-out brawl.
It took the officials and four policemen on site several minutes to calm down the fray. When the fighting finally stopped, the referee called the game, granting the Storm a 21-0 win.
"It was a disappointing thing," said Storm coach Tighe Stratton. "We wouldn’t want that to happen anywhere, let alone at home."
It was a game that the Storm had dominated from the get-go.
Receiving the ball first, the Storm marched down the field, with Mike Woodson (13 carries, 115 yards) breaking off runs of 18 and 12 yards to get the Storm down to the 21-yard line. On third-and-nine, JC Lebarron (6-for-12, 138 yards, 3 TDs) dropped back to pass and connected with Marcus Anderson for a touchdown. After the point after, it was 7-0 three minutes into the game.
The Kings turned the ball over on downs on the next series, setting up the Storm at the Kings’ 49-yard line.
After Woodson was taken down for a loss on the first play, Lebarron found Waters down the right sideline for a 54-yard score.
After a three-and-out by the Kings on the next series, the Storm got the ball back and Lebarron found the end zone again, connecting with Will Cole on a 25-yard dart off of a play action to make it 21-0 with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
From there, the game would get sloppy. The Storm defense kept the Kings from mustering much on offense, but the offense could not crack the goal line again.
Then, with about four minutes left in the third, the Kings punted.
Waters did well on the return, cutting across the field twice before finally ending up in the end zone. But there was no chance to celebrate, the fight had broken out at midfield.
"People lose their cool sometimes," Stratton said. "A lot of what happened was our guys protecting themselves, but then it got carried away."
Once the fight started, the officials were quick to call the game. There has been no word from the New England Football League office yet on suspensions, but Stratton suggested that as many as seven players from each team could face some sort of penalty.
For the Storm, any possible suspension could severely hurt their shot at a deep playoff run. With the 21-0 win, the Storm moved clear at the top of the Class A Maritime League West division with a 5-2 record, putting them in a position for a first-round bye once the playoffs start. The team has only one regular season game left, next Sunday against the Vermont Ravens, before the playoffs.
"We are going to do our best to learn from this and do everything we can to keep it from happening in the future," Stratton said. "The good thing is that nobody got seriously hurt. It was disappointing for our fans, for sure."