2 football coaches suspended after injury-filled game
SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (WHDH) -- Two youth football coaches were suspended for the remainder of the season after a controversial game left five players with concussions.
The match up was between Southbridge and Tantaska, a team from Sturbridge. Southbridge won by a score of 52-0.
For the first time in Steve Lazo’s career he was suspended.
“I’ve been a coach for 18 years, I’ve got about 75-80 years of experience on my staff,” said Lazo, a Southbridge Pop Warner coach.
According to Pop Warner officials, five kids from the losing team were later diagnosed with concussions. Lazo said he had no idea.
“I was shocked to see that when we went to the friendship line no one said anything to me,” said Lazo. “Then two weeks later, a week later everything just blew.”
The league suspended both head coaches. Pop Warner football released a statement saying: “The coaches exhibited conduct unbecoming of a Pop Warner coach, stemming from the lopsided game and minimum number of players on the field, which resulted in an unsafe playing environment.”
There is a mercy rule for Pop Warner games -- when one team is up by 28 points it doesn’t end the game, but essentially speeds it up to finish quickly.
Lazo said he did all he could to help out the other team.
“I was punting on first down. I was giving them the ball back so I didn’t score any more,” said Lazo.
But it didn’t work. Lazo agrees safety concerns are priority number one, but said the suspension isn’t sitting well with him.
“In this one here I think the wheel came off the rail. I think we’re really not doing justice to the actual football programs. My kids got punished for no reason. My kids don’t have a head coach. They’re undefeated going into the playoffs. I think I reconsideration would be nice,” said Lazo.
Because of that game both coaches were suspended for the rest of the season and next year they will be on probation.