Visalia high school rivalry goes too far

A rivalry that spans decades went too far and landed nine Visalia teens in trouble with the law.
November 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A rivalry that spans decades went too far and landed nine South Valley teens in trouble with the law.

Those teens are all students at Mt.Whitney High School. All nine are facing misdemeanor vandalism charges, and the timing isn't good. Some of them are football players who may not be able to play during Friday night's big "Cowhide" rivalry.

The battle between Redwood High and Mt. Whitney High is over a piece of leather, framed, and now hanging high at the Mt. Whitney High School gym. The winner of the Cowhide game gets to proudly display the hide. Before it got to the field there was a hot dog eating contest. Right afterwards, the Redwood High School mascot was pushed, and the head portion of the costume was stolen.

Sgt. Paul Esquibel of the Visalia Police Department said, "Which constitutes robbery and that's concerning and we take it seriously."

They're still investigating the theft and no one's been charged, but coincidentally, surveillance video captured a group of teens vandalizing Redwood High School, and on the same night. Action News cameras caught the aftermath- dozens of splattered eggs, and walls sprayed with profanity laced graffiti. Nine Mt. Whitney teens were arrested for the crime.

Principal Jeff Hohne said, "There are potentially some pretty serious ramifications."

Aside from the criminal charges, the students will have to answer to the district's code of conduct.

"Discipline runs from everything to a warning up to expulsion, it will run in that range if there is a kid suspended every one day of suspension carries two weeks of athletic ineligibility," explained Principal Hohne.

Principal Hohne also says, consequences were necessary and that rarely, has the rivalry escalated to this extreme. He says the involved students are good kids who have never been in trouble before.

"We have an opportunity to settle it tonight, on the field," said Principal Hohne. "We have a great deal of respect for Redwood I have a great deal of respect for their administration, their staff, their students."

The mascot head is still missing and is valued at more than $2,000.00. Those nine students will eventually have to meet with a probation officer to discuss the consequences of their conduct.


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