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Pillow fight or beat-in: listening to side of Coach Bobby Johns of Baker County High School ?

By Melissa Burnsed

True high school gridiron fans already know that their favorite time of year starts this Friday night, with the Kickoff Classic. For Baker County Wildcat football fanatics it’s the start of Coach Bobby Johns second year leading the local boys onto the battlefield.

“It has been a long off-season, and we have worked really hard. The kids are ready to play and hit somebody else and the coaches are eager too,” said Coach Johns….

Johns and his staff have tried hard to ensure that distractions off the field don’t have any influence on the teams readiness to play. “It has been tough but we feel that our problems are behind us. The alleged hazing mess has been investigated and the whole thing was nothing like people said it was. It was just a pillow fight that the JV actually started. If the worst thing that happened at camp was a pillow fight, I am okay with that.”

The coach was referencing harassment allegations broadcast on two Jacksonville television stations last week. A JV player alleged that members of the varsity squad had engaged in hazing new players by supposedly hitting them with objects other than pillows, during the teams trip to Camp Blanding two weeks ago. The player has since quit the team.

Johns said, “Things that were not made public included that 1) The initial phone call to the tv stations was from a parent whose kid quit last year. 2) We were portrayed as doing nothing about the pillow fight, when in fact all players involved received penalty period punishment. 3) The story given to us the night before in a meeting with the player and his parents was different than what was put on tv.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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