The Windber Ramblers and Conemaugh Township Indians are known for a fierce football rivalry, but until Friday night’s game at Windber Stadium, the drama has stayed on the field.
Now both schools, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and Paint Township police are investigating incidents of misconduct stemming from two Indians coaches during and after the game.
“There is an allegation that a coach on the Township side struck a Windber player,” said Windber Athletic Director Todd Bostock. “It’s being investigated by both Township and Windber administrators.”
It was shortly after the game resumed from lightning delay and a good portion of the bleachers had emptied. According to Bostock, Windber quarterback Devon Tomlinson was tackled late out-of-bounds during one of the final drives of the 35-35 game.
It was then that a Township assistant coach was allegedly involved in a physical confrontation with Tomlinson, according to Bostock. Although it is unclear who instigated the confrontation, Bostock said the coach has been identified by Township officials. He added that people have since reviewed footage on game tape exchange site Hudl.com.
“They say you can see he strikes Devon on the sideline,” he said.
Shortly after, Conemaugh Township head coach Sam Zambanini was ejected for arguing with officials over a defensive pass interference call that allowed Windber a first down with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
By PIAA District 5 regulations, Zambanini will not be allowed to coach this Friday’s homecoming game against Homer-Center.
After the final whistle, and the Ramblers’ 42-35 victory, Paint Township police reportedly arrested a separate Conemaugh Township assistant coach, after he confronted PIAA officials who were being escorted off the field. Claims made on social media and message boards suggest it was a physical struggle and that the assistant coach was tased into submission.
Zambanini said that’s untrue and that many of the rumors swirling around the rivalry game’s fervent ending are unfounded.
“I can definitely tell you there was no physical confrontation with any officials,” he said.
The PIAA District 5 committee will be reviewing the incidents, but is waiting on findings of independent administrative investigations from both schools, according to Virgil Palumbo, PIAA District 5 chairman.
Township Superintendent Gary Buchsen did not comment on specifics, as school district personnel issues are not made public.
“We have conducted an administrative investigation and have met with our coaches,” he said. “We’re going to take the steps necessary that’s in the best interests of our students.”
According to Paint Township police, formal charges have yet to be filed but the investigation won’t be finished until later this week.
Tomlinson’s family stated that Devon does not intend to press charges against the Indians coach. Devon did not return phone calls for comment.
Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JustinDennis.