Dunbar players recall emotional game they say they were told to throw
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) – Dunbar High School was up 30 to 14 over Belmont during their football game October 28. They went into the locker room confident, but something changed during halftime.
Dunbar’s coach Darran Powell, District Athletic Director Baker and the principals from Belmont and Dunbar had a meeting to talk about the eligibility issue of one of their players out on the field.
When they went back out onto the field for the third quarter, something was different. The players were in the dark about the prior discussions, confused and unaware as to exactly what was happening.
“We was having,” Dunbar senior Joseph Scates said. “We knew we was going to the playoffs.”
But their coach called a timeout to talk to his team, even though they were up by three touchdowns.
“We didn’t understand what he was saying at first,” Scates said. “He was like, ‘I’ve got to lose this game or we ain’t going to be able to go to the playoffs’. And we were all confused, like, ‘What do you mean’, and he couldn’t really tell us.”
“He just dropped his head and start crying,” Dunbar senior Tavion Thomas said. “We all knew something’s going on. Then they told us, and we was like, man, so we broke the huddle. We was just crying. We was crying while we about to run our play. We was crying. We just throwing them the ball, like, just go.”
“My heart,” Scates said. “My heart crushed. It’s just like my whole body, it just did not even want to play anymore.”
After officials began to intervene, Powell told his kids not to worry and just play football.
“It was like a bunch of savages out there on the defense when they told us to play,” Scates said. “Everybody started going crazy. We was crying the rest of the whole game, crying. Crying each play, every down. I’m telling my teammates, ‘We going to be alright, y’all, don’t worry about it’, and we weren’t alright.”
Dunbar missed out on the playoffs, but then the players were dealt an even bigger blow.
They never doubted Coach Powell would be back to lead the team for their 2017 season, but found out in late June that his contract was not renewed.
That news came out just more than a month before the official start of practice.
“When I found that he wasn’t head coach,” Thomas said, “I just broke down.”
“Next day we had a meeting, Coach Darran wasn’t there,” Scates said. “When he came in, then we; he spoke, started crying. Everybody started crying.”
“We was just so close together and they going to do it before the season start,” Thomas said. “It’s like man, they really trying to crush us and split us apart.”
The players haven’t been able to express their opinions to the school board, but if given the chance, they’d say just how much Darran means to them.
“Just please, let him get his job back,” Thomas said. “He really like a father figure to us. He really care for us, like we his own kids. We really don’t want anybody else but him. It’s really going to break out heart if he really don’t be our head coach.”
“With me not having a father in my life,” Scates said, “he was the cloest thing to being like the father figure in my life. And that’s like my big brother, dad, whatever you want to call it. It’s not the same without Coach Darran being out there. I can’t imagine myself playing for anybody else.”
It has been a very trying time for the players, but between the way their 2016 season wrapped up and the last 9 months, they can’t wait to start playing again. They said they’ll be especially motivated once 2017 kicks off.