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Bulldogs benched for bout of boozing

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Although everyone has been mum about the incident, a passel of gridironers from the Bandera High School Bulldog varsity team - and perhaps other sports teams as well - has been benched for the remaining two games of the season.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, at approximately 10:30 pm, Bandera County Sheriff's Office Deputy Mike Dyall responded to a noise complaint on English Hollow Road, off FM 3240. When he arrived at the location, he discovered several minors consuming alcohol. After Dyall identified himself, all revelers - except for two - scattered into adjacent woods or into a bedroom in a residence on the property. Those who sought refuge in the bedroom refused to open the door to Dyall.
Deputy Mike Cornwell, Precinct 1 Constable Phil Tobin, Department of Public Safety Trooper Steven Mayfield and City of Bandera Deputy Marshal Ruben Nino assisted Dyall with the investigation. After contacting registered owners of vehicles found at the scene, law enforcement officers requested that they retrieve their vehicles.
A short time later, six subjects emerged from the bedroom, and officers determined they were underage and had been consuming alcohol. After being cited, the not so fleet-of-feet - and their vehicles - were released to the custody of their parents or other authorized adults, who were arriving at the scene with alacrity.
Teenagers determined not to have been drinking were released with their vehicles. However, according to Capt. Shane Merritt, those who had taken off into the woods have not yet been identified.
One resident of Panther Hollow Road, which backs up to English Hollow, reported his "close in warning systems" - aka Chihuahuas - went crazy that evening. "I didn't know what was going on, but they wouldn't stop barking," the man said. He soon found out what had set off his dogs.
"The next day at school, my son was talking to some of the kids that had gotten away. They told him, 'We were running all over the fields and ended up hiding in someone's dirty goat shed.'
"My son came home and said, 'Dad, the other night those guys were hiding in our goat shed out back'," the man continued, adding, "That explains our barking Chihuahuas."
According to Merritt, as the investigation progressed, parents arrived at the location and some convinced their teenagers to come out of the woods. Teenagers determined to have been drinking were cited and released.
In addition, a quantity of marijuana, smoking pipes and other drug paraphernalia were discovered inside and outside residence. The homeowner's daughter and a friend, who lived at the residence, had hosted the party in the absence of the homeowner, who was out of town. Subsequent charges of possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, evading arrest and detention may be filed at a later date.
In July BHS Principal Gary Bitzkie sent parents and students a directive stating: "Exemplary behavior is expected of extracurricular participants under the jurisdiction and sponsorship of BISD school and district. Our sponsors and administration do not feel that students who are participating in inappropriate or illegal activity such as alcohol, drug or tobacco use represent the character of student leaders in our school."
Additionally, changes in the Extracurricular Code include "BHS administration will require that any student who receives an extra-curricular suspension will be required to attend awareness education activities before returning to competition in their sport or activity."
On Monday, Nov. 5, Courier sports writer Tim McGrath spoke with Larry Prince, BHS football coach and Bandera Independent School District athletic director, who was naturally reluctant to discuss the incident. According to McGrath, Prince said the cited athletes would be required to abide by a waiver they had signed earlier. "The citations will cause the players to miss 30 percent of the remaining games," McGrath reported, "but since there's only two football games left, the penalty will carry over to any other sports they play, such as basketball. As a penalty, they will miss the equivalent of 10 percent of the basketball games."
Additionally, the players involved in the drinking incident must attend all practices and suit up for the remaining games, but they will not be allowed to play. "They can participate in Senior Night and walk onto the field with their parents, but they won't be allowed to participate in the game," McGrath explained.
The consequences for underage drinking seemed somewhat light to Courier political cartoonist Dennis Allyn, who participated in a bout of illicit guzzling himself while a high school athlete "about 50 years ago."
"We were caught drinking at a private party," he revealed. "As a result, school administrators cancelled the entire basketball season. Lesson learned."