Coatesville and Downingtown are about five miles apart, and the rivalry between their high school football teams is of long standing.
Downingtown Police Chief Daniel Heliker said the fight involved most of the players from both teams. He said that after Coatesville won the game 10-0, the Coatesville players came across the field to where the Downingtown players were standing on the sidelines.
"A number of people thought they were coming over to congratulate us," Heliker said yesterday.
Instead, Heliker said, the Coatesville players ripped down a banner that included the words "the Red Traitors," an apparent reference to Coatesville head coach Mike Dominick, who once coached at Downingtown. At least two Coatesville players had also played for Downingtown in previous years. Coatesville's team name is the Red Raiders.
Coatesville school Superintendent Louis M. Laurento said yesterday that Dominick admitted to him that he had sent the team over to rip down the banner.
"We made a mistake on sending the kids over there," Laurento said. "We shouldn't have done that."
After the sign came down, fighting broke out. Heliker said that it was unclear who actually started the fighting, but that Butler's actions were considered more dangerous than the rest of the activity. "It was a little different than the pushing and shoving and elbowing that went on in other parts of the field," he said.
Heliker said when the two teams played earlier in the season in Coatesville, there were reports of incidents, including rocks being thrown at the Downingtown team buses, so police increased security at the Downingtown stadium. "The fans behaved very maturely in that they didn't get involved, or it could have really been serious," Heliker said.
An arraignment date for Butler has not been set.