A fight between two coaches in a local youth football league game has caused the expulsions of the men and assault charges to be pursued against members of one coach’s family.
The Maricopa Youth Football League, which participates as part of the Valley-based San Tan Youth Football League, had a game between its 11- and 12-year-olds in the Pee Wee division Maricopa Matadors and The Dragonz 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, did not take a knee near the end of the game, Tempe Police spokesperson Sgt. Mike Horn said.
According to Horn, the verbal altercation in the parking lot ended and both men went to leave, getting in their separate vehicles. However, 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 fight, which was recorded by security cameras and eventually broken up by a security guard, resulted in Kennedy being cut on the back with what one witness said appeared to be a knife, Horn said. Kennedy and Payne were cited for disorderly conduct, while Payne’s son is being referred on charges of assault.
Tempe Police have also referred Payne’s wife Tiffany to the Maricopa County Attorney for aggravated assault charges.
Tempe Police have yet to recover the knife involved in the altercation.
The fight led to the expulsions of both Payne and Kennedy from the league. According to a statement from the league, the type of action that occurred 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 by-laws, 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 and the team’s assistants will guide them for the remainder of the season.
“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 Maricopa Matadors and The Dragonz continued their season last week without their head coaches, and conclude regular season play Oct. 27 before the Nov. 3 start of the season’s 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 MYF 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 are being rewarded for that pledge at the end of the season by the Arizona Cardinals, who will host the 170 league players at their Nov. 11 game against the Detroit Lions and post special recognition of their pledges on the Jumbo-tron during the game.
- Staff writer Brett Fera contributed to this report.