PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Pascagoula Panthers' four point victory over Ocean Springs Friday night has been overshadowed just a bit by the way Pascagoula's four captains snubbed their opponents.
"Shake hands and then introduce yourselves," the referee told the captains from both teams as they stood at midfield before Friday's opening kickoff.
Ocean Springs' two players stepped forward and extended their hands toward the four Pascagoula captains. But, the Panthers' quartet ignored them.
"What? You ain't shaking hands?" the referee asked Pascagoula's captains.
When he realized they were determined to skip that part of the pre-game ceremony, the referee said with a somewhat surprised sound in his voice, "Okay. Go ahead. We're going to get good sportsmanship out of you."
Panthers' head coach Lewis Sims didn't find out about the snub until after the game was over. When he did, he typed an apology letter.
It said in part, "We make no excuses for our actions and accept full responsibility for our reprehensible lack of sportsmanship at that juncture of the contest." Sims wrote the letter to Ocean Springs's head coach and the Ocean Springs football team. "If we had the ability to turn back the hands of time, we would surely reciprocate the offer of a handshake in acknowledgement of the expectation of a hard-fought contest fraught with excitement."
(Read the entire apology letter here: http://bit.ly/135qVgg)
Ocean Springs seemed to use the snub as a rallying cry. The Greyhounds raced out to a 17-0 lead.
"Your subsequent domination of our team during the first half should be a harbinger of any such antics that do nothing but motivate the offended team," Coach Sims wrote. "Please accept this apology and let this serve as an example to all teams as a lesson in preserving the greatest part of this game - sportsmanship."
At his first practice after the handshake debacle, Coach Sims said he made sure his players understood this would never happen again. Translation - his players ran more than they have in a long time.
"We let them know that's not acceptable," Pascagoula's head coach said. "We don't show anybody up. That's not who we are."