Mississippi’s two top 6-A soccer teams went head to head in a championship match that ended in a vicious attack on a player Saturday, and its all caught on video.
In the last five minutes of the State High School Soccer Championship match Gulfport High School scored one point over Northwest Rankin High School.
That’s when Gulfport’s number 28 launches a brutal attack on NWR’s number eight.
“He decided he was gonna take him out, and he grabbed my son around the throat and threw him down and started punching him,” said Terrence Shirley, father of the attacked Northwest player.
On the receiving end of the blows was Arlington Shirley, a right defensive back on the NWR team.
He was struck at least five times in the face before hitting the ground.
The 16 year old’s father said Arlington was immediately ejected while the referee and law officers did nothing and took 15 minutes before deciding to finally eject Gulfport’s number 28 player, the aggressor.
“Obviously he had no idea that it was gonna happen, had no way to defend himself and the guy started pummeling him and if someone had not come over and kind of helped to try to get him off who knows how long it would have gone on. the referees didn’t seem like they were gonna stop him,” said the angered father, an administrator at University Medical Center.
18 year old Zach Windom began the assault on Shirley.
Windom is a right defensive back with the Gulfport High School Admirals.
Also in question is the referee’s reaction.
He is seen backing away instead of separating the players.
Arlington is the grandson of prominent Jackson physician Dr. Aaron Shirley.
According to Terrence Shirley, his son has a broken left wrist which will require surgery, as well as facial lacerations and abrasions.
The elder Shirley watched the attack in horror from the stands and wants Windom arrested on assault charges.
But he was told by the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department that charges can not be filed because signed player releases do not categorize actions on the playing field as criminal.
Regarding the attack and possible consequences, Mississippi High School Activities Association spokesperson Dr. Phyfa Eiland said, “The incident is under investigation and will be dealt with…All students or coaches ejected from any competition because of their behavior are required to go through on line Star Sportsmanship Training.”
Shirley said there was no interaction between the two right defensive backs before the altercation, one which he believes can jeopardize Arlington’s chances for a college and professional soccer career.
“He opted not to go to South Carolina to stay with Northwest to try to help them win the championship.”
Arlington, a player with the Birmingham United Soccer Academy, is currently being pursued by 20 universities.
Gulfport won the championship game.
Arlington Shirley has a doctor’s appointment scheduled Wednesday to find out further on the surgery.
The family has hired an attorney to pursue legal action.