In a dramatic turn of events, a high school football coach has lost his job before he could even lead his team into their first game. BJ Hall, who had been appointed only last December at Sunlake High School just north of Tampa, found himself embroiled in a situation that led to his exit.
The Tampa Bay Times reported an intense incident at a team practice. It all started when Connor Ferst, the team’s offensive coordinator, was unexpectedly tackled by another assistant during a particularly heated drill. That assistant is believed to be Elijah McClendon. The tackle was so severe that Ferst needed medical help.
In response to the incident, Ferst immediately quit his position, and it seems that McClendon was shown the door as well.
As for Hall, he initially found himself on administrative leave due to the May 1st brawl. However, he later decided to step down from his position, and he shared this decision with his players through a text message on a Thursday.
“I would like to tell you before it gets out that I will not be the Head Coach anymore at Sunlake High School and I thank you for the past 5 months,” Hall wrote via Scorebook Live. “I am terribly sorry about how this went down and I hope to stay in touch with you and continue to be a resource [for you] and your families.”
Principal Kara Merlin conveyed to parents through a voice message that she had held a meeting with Hall and a representative from the school district. After careful deliberation, she expressed her belief that it would be in everyone’s best interest for Hall to step down from his position as head coach.
“I made it clear to coach Hall that I wish him well, and I know that ultimately we all share the same goal, which is to do what’s best for our school and all of the students,” Merlin said in the voice message via the Tampa Bay Times.
“Coach Hall’s departure is not entirely due to the incident involving his now-former assistant coaches. However, that unfortunate incident has resulted in negative national attention, divisions among parents, tensions within the Sunlake High School family and, most importantly, an immense amount of emotional stress on our players.”
The Tampa Bay Times also reported that an arrest is “forthcoming” – Ferst said he planned to press charges against McClendon.
“Pasco Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate this incident and currently has probable cause to arrest one individual,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Britney Morris told the Times. “At this time, we have not been able to locate the individual to make the arrest.”