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The Westlake and Lackey football rivalry has been one of the most known and intense matchups in Southern Maryland over the years.

Thursday night, the teams were scheduled to clash at 6:30 at Lackey High School, but now that won’t happen.

According to a Thursday morning press release from Charles County Public Schools, the game was canceled and Westlake was forced to forfeit as a result of a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct that occurred in the 20-13 overtime victory over visiting Bowie of Prince George’s County.

In the third quarter of Saturday’s contest, Westlake and Bowie players rushed onto the field in a bench-clearing skirmish after strong safety Randel Emakoua made a tackle.

“I was disappointed for a second, but it was a call that was made, so you treat it as a loss that happened the week before and you just move on to the next game,” Westlake head coach Marlon Curtis said Thursday morning. “You can’t spend time dwelling on it. This should be a motivator for us, so now we have to make up lost ground now.”

Four players, two from each team, were ejected during the scuffle, meaning none of them could play in Week 2.

According to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, a player who leaves the sidelines to enter the field of play during a physical conflict is subject to being ejected, which results in the forfeit of the following game.

Lackey was awarded a 2-0 win by forfeit and is now 2-0 overall on the season, while the Wolverines are now 1-1.

“The state deemed it necessary to stay within the framework of the rules that was set forth due to the ejection of players from both teams,” Curtis said. “You make mistakes in your reactions to certain things and you subject yourself to those consequences. You have to deal with that and continue to play football.”

Curtis said that now the focus is putting all the adversity behind them and focusing on Week 3 versus another county rival in McDonough. Westlake is scheduled to host that contest at 6:30 p.m.

“The guys recognized that they made an emotional mistake and are very sorry for how that did not represent them truly and didn’t represent the Westlake family as a whole or football in Southern Maryland,” Curtis said. “The guys understand that and will get ready for McDonough.”

Lackey head coach John Lush, whose team was coming off a 47-0 win over La Plata in Week 1, was geared up to play its county rivals, but noted that one can’t control the state regulations.

“We were obviously very excited to play Westlake; we haven’t had a chance to beat them since 2008, so it was something we were looking forward to since last year,” Lush said Thursday morning. “Those type of things are out of our hands, our focus has to shift over North Point next week [at 6:30 p.m. Friday at North Point], who is another good football team.”

Lush mentioned that the coaching staff, athletic director Tony Mast and Principal James Short talked to the players about the situation.

“The main thing is that we learn from this and make sure we aren’t in the same situation,” Lush said. “I think the precedent is set now; we spoke to our players yesterday about conducting themselves at all times.”

The release states that notification of the canceled game was sent by email to Lackey and Westlake parents Wednesday.

“Incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct are routinely investigated and often violate Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, Charles County Public Schools and individual school athletic rules,” the release states.

Bowie will forfeit its game Friday against Charles H. Flowers High School, head coach Jae Jackson said his athletic director, Jessica Brandt, informed him.

Jackson said the decision involved his team’s loss to Westlake on Saturday, but he declined to elaborate. He said he was uncertain whether the Westlake result would stand.

ajmason@somdnews.com Staff writers Dallas Cogle and Dan Feldman contributed to this report.