Heading into arguably the biggest regular season game in school history, the Pioneers have been hit by a suspension — and possible dismissal — to standout linebacker and receiver John Kollie. He was caught vaping in the weight room, and will serve a five-day out-of-school suspension, according to two sources in Washington County Schools who asked not to be identified.
Crockett officials would not release the name of the suspended player because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), but the sources confirmed the player was Kollie.
The 6-foot, 180-pound senior will not play in Friday night’s Musket Bowl game against Washington County rival Daniel Boone, where the Region 1-5A title will be on the line.
Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary would not confirm the player’s name, but he said he was very upset about the situation.
“I’m sick at heart,” Flanary said. “After all these things we’ve been through with both of these programs going back a few years. I don’t know what to say. You want so badly for things to go well for these teams, and to see this blow up into such a huge public thing, it’s very sad.”
Crockett’s 2017 season was rolling along at 5-2 before head coach Gerald Sensabaugh was removed from his position. The Pioneers went through two more head coaches, and lost their final four games. This year, Crockett is 8-0 and ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 5A.
While Kollie’s absence may be overcome on offense because the Pioneers have so many skill position weapons, it could be a crushing blow on defense as the Pioneers face Charlie Cole and Boone’s grinding ground attack. Kollie was coming off a game against Tennessee High where he totaled 19 tackles, including 10 solos.
According to the sources, Kollie was caught prior to the Cherokee game, which was on Oct. 5. The timing of the incident meant Kollie should have been suspended for the Cherokee game, or the Oct. 12 contest against Tennessee High.
Flanary said he did not know why the disciplinary action was delayed.
“That decision was made at the school,” he said. “What the thinking was, I don’t know. It has been my mandate to the principals that the punished be meted out the day of, or the day after. It should be done in a timely manner.”
Another issue is the contract signed by all student-athletes in the Washington County school system. The contract states three unexcused absences from practice or a game will result in being dismissed from the team. If that policy is followed and Kollie’s absences from practice aren’t excused, he will be dismissed for the remainder of the season.
Flanary said he wants all students to be treated the same.
“If this happens to a ninth grader who hasn’t been recognized for anything, I want him to be treated the same way,” Flanary said. “I want to be fair and equitable to all of the kids.”