Coach banned, others suspended over youth football safety - Tucson News Now

Coach banned, others suspended over youth football safety

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A youth football team may be forced to forfeit its game this weekend. The Antioch Falcons just lost all six coaches after they were accused of cheating and putting players' safety at risk.

League officials say the coaches were more concerned with winning than doing the right thing, but the coaches say they're being punished because their team is so much better than the rest.

On its website, the Tennessee Youth Football Alliance says it teaches children values like fair play, so the accusation of cheating is being taken seriously.

Head coach Sheldon Bray has been kicked out of the league for life, while assistant Jay Chamness and four others are suspended.

"What they're accusing us of, it's crazy. It clearly didn't happen," Bray said.

The men coach the 11- and 12-year-old Antioch Falcons, and according to TYFA officials the coaches' actions risked players' safety.

Before each game players are supposed to weigh in. If a boy weighs more than 140 lbs. he must wear two stripes on his helmet and can't run the ball or play certain positions, so he doesn't hurt the smaller players.

But league officials say, in a recent game, the coaches didn't weigh in some players and switched helmets and removed stripes to give their team an advantage.

"And TYFA found this was an intentional violation by the head coach and the coaching staff," TYFA Executive Director Jerome Perkins said.

"We've been very successful, we've won. We've never cheated to do so. We're basically being punished because we have been a winning, successful organization," Bray said.

One player has also been suspended. The Antioch coaches say they want a full investigation and feel they have video to prove they did nothing wrong, but league officials stand by their decision.

"You can see why Antioch would be having these problems with the league because they are so far away from the principles and values that we're trying to teach," Perkins said.

League officials say the suspended coaches have been given the opportunity to meet with them to explain what happened, but so far they say the coaches have not done that.

Because of this controversy, it's unlikely the team will be able to play Saturday. One parent of an Antioch player told Channel 4 her son is "torn apart."

Copyright WSMV 2011. All rights reserved.

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