South Mountain (Phoenix) senior Tziaha Quint laid on the ground with his father’s arms wrapped around him, as players were instructed to take a knee after multiple gun shots were heard during Friday night’s rivalry football game at Betty H. Fairfax High School (Laveen, Arizona).
Fairfax coach Brandon Johnson’s immediate concern was the health of tight end/linebacker Lorenzo Washington, who injured his neck during a play as the shots rang out.
“He tripped and fell and someone kneed him,” Johnson said. “He was conscious and coherent.”
Washington was taken by ambulance to a hospital and is expected to recover, Johnson said.
Johnson said Fairfax executed an emergency plan with both spectators and players sharing the locker room.
“At that point, there was not much to be said,” Johnson said. “We’re all going through the process.”
Richard Franco, public information officer for the Phoenix Union High School District, said players and fans were engaged in a modified lockdown in order to assess the situation and ensure the safety of all in attendance.
Franco said that Washington’s injury was unrelated to the incident in the community.
After about an hour, fans were allowed back into the stadium and play resumed with South Mountain ultimately winning, 37-20, and there was an abbreviated Fairfax homecoming ceremony.
“Everybody wants to talk about the gunshots,” said Johnson, a former NFL player. “It was more loud than anything. It’s one of those events you can’t prevent. They’re random everywhere. You never know.
“It was outside our school. It could be inside someone else’s school tomorrow. It had a lot less to do with our school, a lot less to do with the people playing the game. On the outside, there is not much you can do about it.”
South Mountain co-head coach Mark Carter said his twin brother and co-coach Marcus emphasized the three Fs to their players in the locker room during the stoppage.
“Faith, focus and fun,” Mark said the players were told. “We kept repeating that. We kept the guys engaged.”