VIDOR - Our topic today is sportsmanship on the high school gridiron. There's a newspaper clipping from The Vidorian written by Randall Luker that's circulating social media with the headline "No handshake, exhibits no class."
In the article, Luker writes that the Memorial Titan football captains refused to shake hands with the Vidor Pirates captains before last Friday night's game.
Specifically the article states that un-named sources "familiar with the situation said the disrespectful act had been planned by Titan Head Coach Kenny Harrison and the Titan coaching staff as a way to motivate the Titans and that they saw nothing wrong with it."
12News contacted both Coach Kenny Harrison in Port Arthur and Coach Jeff Mathews in Vidor to ask them the same three questions about Friday night's pregame hand shake, the post game display of sportsmanship, and just simply what was going through their minds before the game started.
When asked if the two teams shook hands and wished each other good luck before the game, Coach Mathews said "On the field there was none, but I'm assuming there was during the coin flip outside the locker rooms."
"They definitely shook hands, I was standing right there," Coach Harrison told 12 News.
It's important to note, the official coin flip happens before the teams even run on the field, usually right outside the locker rooms. What fans see moments before kickoff is a mock coin flip.
12News followed up immediately with both coaches if both teams shook hands after the game and they responded "Absolutely" and "Correct."
Before any handshaking had a chance to take place, and hour before the game ever started, Mathews told me he chose to warm up down the road at Port Neches-Groves High School rather than Memorial Stadium.
He reinforced that the two schools have had no problems saying "we've only played twice. I heard before the game they like to line up on the 50-yard line and yell. They have every right to do that before the game and I respect that. However, I removed our kids from that situation. If something would have sparked pregame, because of where I coach, Vidor, I'd assume it would be our fault."
Coach Harrison responded by saying, "That's not my concern where his team warms up, that's between him and his team. Just like us, he has to do whatever it takes to get a psychological advantage. I respect him and his program."
12News Lance Edwards has witnessed Port Arthur Memorial's vocal approach before each game since the day Coach Harrison stepped on campus.
He also witnessed the 2016 game in Vidor when both teams shook hands at the end of an epic game that Vidor won.
Both coaches used a key word when describing each other's programs with me on the phone. They have respect for each other.
Therefore 12News verifies that The Vidorian article is false.
Both teams shook hands both before and after the game.
We also verified with Coach Harrison and Coach Mathews that both the Titans and Pirates will be rooting for each other in the first round of the playoffs this Friday night.
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