COLUMBUS, Ind. — The head football coach at Columbus North High School and one of his assistants have been disciplined for a sidelines fight that erupted between the two during Friday’s football game.
Head coach Tim Bless and offensive line coach Aaron Karrer have been suspended for the Bull Dogs’ next game, the team’s Oct. 27 sectional tournament opener against Jeffersonville, as the result of a verbal and physical altercation in the regular-season finale at Southport, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. announced Tuesday.
The two coaches have worked together for all 18 years Bless has been at the helm of the Bull Dogs program. Karrer, a North alum, was one of the first three assistants chosen by Bless to build his staff in 2000.
Besides their coaching roles, Bless is a North High School health and physical education teacher and assistant athletics director, and Karrer is one of three deans of students at the high school whose duties include dealing with student discipline.
Their daytime roles are not affected by the suspensions, North High School Principal David Clark said.
The altercation between the two happened shortly after North missed a 30-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter Friday night against Southport, which lost to the Bull Dogs 28-14.
Greg Jones, a freelance photographer who was covering the game for The Republic, said he saw the incident on the sidelines from about 20 yards away.
Jones said the tone and volume of a verbal outburst caught his attention and prompted him to turn around and start taking photographs.
Someone yelled, “It’s my team to coach!” or something to that effect, said Jones, who said he did not know initially who else besides Bless was involved.
Images of Bless and Karrer, captured by Jones, showed the two coaches in each other’s faces with their hands on each other’s upper bodies.
Football game security staff members hired by Southport High School, alerted to the fight, remained on the North sideline after the incident, Jones said.
“BCSC has high expectations for staff and students, and Columbus North encourages a positive atmosphere set by coaches, officials, fans, and other athletes,” the school district said, in part, in a written statement issued by Larry Perkinson, employee and student assistance coordinator, announcing the suspensions of the two school district employees.
“While winning is a natural goal in the pursuit of excellence, the principles of good sportsmanship and enjoyment of competition take precedence at all times and enhance the educational value of all contests,” the statement said.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.