Two coaches involved in a fight during an East Valley youth football game have been expelled, and assault charges are being pursued against members of one coach’s family.
The Maricopa Youth Football League, which participates in the San Tan Youth Football League, had a game between the Maricopa Matadors and Dragonz, with 11- and 12-yearold players in the Pee Wee division, marred by a pair of fights between the coaches on Oct. 13.
The Matadors’ coach, David Kennedy, got into an altercation with Dragonz head coach Terrance Payne Sr. at Tempe High School after the Dragonz, who defeated the Matadors 26-12, continued trying to score rather than take a knee near the end of the game, Tempe Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Horn said.
According to Horn, the men argued in the parking lot and then got in their vehicles. Before Payne could leave the parking lot with his son, Terrance Jr., and wife, Tiffany, Kennedy boxed him in with his vehicle, Horn said.
The ensuing confrontation, which was recorded by security cameras and broken up by a security guard, resulted in Kennedy being cut on the back with what a witness said appeared to be a knife, Horn said. Kennedy and Payne were cited for disorderly conduct.
Tempe Police have not recovered a knife.
Payne and Kennedy were expelled from the league. According to a league statement, the incident was “completely unacceptable and completely indefensible.”
“Let this be a reminder to everyone that participation in this league and youth sports in general is a privilege,” the statement posted on the San Tan Youth Football league’s Web site read. “It is very often over-zealous parents who cannot control themselves or their anger that ruin the activities for our young children. The children emulate the actions of the adults, be they positive and demonstrating good sportsmanship or, as in this case, destructive, violent and of the poorest sportsmanship.”
Kennedy’s expulsion from the league, according to league bylaws, would be effective for a minimum of one year. Joe Griffin, vice president of Maricopa Youth Football, said some parents had decided to pull their sons from the team after the game, but no games have been canceled.
“There are a couple parents that pulled their kids, but we tried to talk to all the parents and let them know that it was just one of those days we regret ever happened, especially in youth sports,” Griffin said. “It was unfortunate that a coach got pushed to that limit. This incident is new to a lot of us. We watch it on TV, but never think it will happen here.”
Both the Matadors and the Dragonz will continue their seasons without head coaches and conclude regular season play today before the Nov. 3 start of the playoffs.
Kennedy began the year as an assistant coach for the Maricopa High School freshman football team before taking on the lead role with the Matadors. Griffin said the Maricopa Youth Football board reviews all coaches after the season and will continue to set guidelines and train new coaches.
The Maricopa Youth Football League had its participants sign pledges to abstain from domestic violence this season in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The league’s players will be rewarded for that pledge at the end of the season by the Arizona Cardinals, who will host the league’s 170 players at their Nov. 11 game against the Detroit Lions.
“It was unfortunate that a coach got pushed to that limit. This incident is new to a lot of us. We watch it on TV but never think it will happen here.”