Any seasoned high-school sports coach expects a few jeers and gibes from the stands, where many spectators are so young, their passion outweighs their politeness.
But the trash talk turned bloody outside Olney High School Thursday afternoon after sour fans of Olney's boys' basketball team attacked the victorious Frankford players and coach in the parking lot after the game.
"When we came out as a team [to board the bus home], it was crazy. One of our [adult] fans got jumped right away; he got beat up pretty bad," Frankford coach Ben Dubin said. "Everywhere you looked, there were fights going on, six to eight at a time. I got hit three times, [including] once to the face, but they didn't catch me flush."
Player Omar Askia was hit so hard in the face his eye swelled shut, Dubin said. Player Harold Hicks went home with a bloody mouth after catching a sucker-punch, Dubin said. Olney fans even appeared to be fighting each other, he added.
Lamar Poole, a Philadelphia police officer who was off duty, attended the game to cheer on his son Steffon, a Frankford player.
"It was crazy - very crazy," said Poole, who was a star basketballer at Thomas Edison in the early 1990s. "There had to be 50 to 100 people out there, attacking the Frankford players . . . I stayed up at the top of the steps with my son, making sure nobody came after him."
The violence came after escalating tension inside the gymnasium, where many spectators refused to sit in the stands, witnesses said.
Dozens crowded the sidelines, prompting frustrated referees to repeatedly halt the game to restore order, witnesses said.
When a Frankford player dunked a ball, Dubin said, an Olney fan standing behind that basket growled at him: "Stop trying to disrespect our team. We're gonna f--- you up after the game!"
Dubin heard a referee, running downcourt during the game, shout to an Olney staffer: "This is disgraceful!"
School district spokesman Fernando Gallard said four adults - including a school police officer - were at the game to ensure order.
But there were just too many misbehaving.
Refs finally ended the game with more than a minute left on the clock because unruly fans wouldn't cooperate, witnesses said. Frankford won, 74-51.
Police reported several disorderly-conduct arrests.
Gallard said district officials are investigating the incident and will discipline any students identified as offenders and refer others to police for punishment.
"We cannot allow something like this to happen again," Gallard said. "We want our students and our guests to know we are serious about this and will not tolerate it."
Assaulting a school official - in this case, Dubin - can result in expulsion and criminal charges, he added.
Witnesses agreed most of the misbehaving fans appeared to be Olney alumni and young adults from the neighborhood, and not current students.
Olney Coach Jeff McKenna lamented fans' behavior as an unwelcome blow to his school's and team's reputation.
"My team and Frankford's team are all friends with each other. The kids for both teams played hard and acted like gentlemen," said McKenna, who also teaches history at Olney. "This was young adults from the neighborhood acting badly. It's not a basketball or even a school issue. It's just sad that they make us look bad."