Former Walker High School football coach offers apology

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CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT) — Former Walker High School head football coach John Holladay is apologizing for his actions during a Friday night football game against Cullman.

Holladay released the written apology after the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) handed down their sanctions Thursday.  The AHSAA suspended both Holladay and Cullman High’s Matt Hopper for their on field fight for the rest of the season.

In the apology, Holladay first writes how deeply saddened he is to let his boys down and tells them sportsmanship should come before passion and emotions of the game.

He specifically asks forgiveness from Coach Hopper. Recognizing the national attention the fight has received, he apologizes to both the Walker and Cullman County communities and the entire state of Alabama.

Meanwhile, Holladay has resigned as coach and is on administrative leave from his teaching position.

CBS 42’s Melissa Crabtree talks to Holladay’s attorney about why he decided to speak out.

This is John Holladay’s full apology released through his attorney.


I wish I could have come forward before now with an apology to the people of the Walker and Cullman communities and the state of Alabama in general. But upon the advice of counsel and the request of the AHSAA, I have remained silent. I do, however, wish to extend that apology today.

No words can take back the events of this past Friday night after the Cullman vs. Walker high school football game. If words were sufficient, I would have said them over and over and over again. Likewise, no words can express the deep remorse I have for my actions and involvement in this matter, but I will try my best to express them here. First, to my boys who don the Black and Gold of Walker High School, I am deeply saddened that I let you down, and I ask that each of you forgive me. You know that sportsmanship comes before the passion and emotions of the game. I ask that each of you learn from this unfortunate situation and uphold the sportsmanship that is necessary and demanded for such a hard and tough game. Play hard men!

To the students of Walker High School, I also ask for your forgiveness and ask that you do not let your passion for the Golden Viking fade because of this incident. Rally around your brother and sister students and forge ahead to greatness as each of you are capable. You as the students are the spirit and life blood of the Black and Gold, which will allow Walker to transcend this moment.

I apologized this past Tuesday to the Cullman Schools Superintendent, Dr. Doreen Griffeth, Cullman Principal Dr. Elton Bouldin, Coach Mark Britton and Coach Matt Hopper. I wish to further extend this apology to the Cullman High School students, faculty and staff, and the Cullman community. I ask for your forgiveness and I hope each of you can find it in your heart to forgive me for this incident. I wish to specifically state again to Coach Hopper my regret that this incident happened and hope that over time you can forgive me.

I also extend this apology to all high school football coaches across the state of Alabama. I hope you do not suffer as a result of the black cloud caused by this incident.  

Lastly, to Dr. Robert Sparkman, the Jasper City School Board, Principal Gary Boling, all Jasper City school administrators, faculty and staff, the parents and the community, let me first thank you for providing me the great opportunity to coach, teach and lead your children over the past six years. I pray my 10 seconds of infamy does not undo all the great things we have done together for the students, the school and the football program. You asked me to lead and be an example to these young men and I failed for a split second. I regret my actions put you and Walker High School in this situation, and I ask your forgiveness.


John Holladay

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