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Pa. Rivals Banned From Playing

March 14, 2002

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SHARON, Pa. (AP) _ High school administrators have decided that if rival schools cannot play without fighting, they won’t play at all.

The Sharon school board voted Wednesday to cancel all boy’s basketball and football games with Farrell for the upcoming season after a rumble in the stands during a basketball game last month left three police officers injured.

Farrell Area School Director Larry Manilla called the board’s decision ``not a bad idea.″

The crowd turned on police officers attempting to break up a fight during a Feb. 2 basketball game, clawing at their uniforms and grabbing for their guns, police said.

Jesse Wilson, 20, a defensive back for the University of Cincinnati football team, was arrested on aggravated assault and riot charges and has since been suspended from the team.

The Mercer County District Attorney’s office is reviewing a videotape of the fight that involved as many as 100 people and more arrests could be on the way, investigators said.

The fight broke out in a packed gymnasium at Sharon High School with about two minutes remaining in the game between the Tigers and the Farrell Steelers, police said.

Four officers staffing the game waded into the crowd to break up the fight, police said.

Officers from five area police departments responded to calls for assistance after the crowd turned on officers, punching and kicking them and grabbing for their guns, police said.

No officers were seriously injured, police said.

The game was called off and police cleared the gym, but fighting broke out in a commons area, and then continued in the emergency room of a local hospital where 16 people were treated for injuries. Police were also called to the hospital to restore order.

Sharon is near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

The schools, which played their first football game in 1922, were scheduled to play each other in the first game of the 2002 football season.

There has been no decision made on whether there will be a ban on other sports between the two schools, Sharon Superintendent Richard Rossi said.

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