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Friday, November 4, 2016

Charges of Racial Slurs and Violence Tarnish North Ridgeville Football League Ahead of Championship

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 1:27 PM

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Here's a really incredible story for you as we roll into the weekend. The Chronicle-Telegram's Lisa Roberson has done some fine work in sussing out the details of the controversial North Ridgeville Football League championship — a series of Nov. 5 games from which a handful of teams have already forfeited.

Here's the gist: The 8-0 Elyria Mini Pioneers have been practicing for the game at the end of their first season in this league. (The league is for 10- and 11-year-olds.) But every other team in the league has said it will refuse to play Elyria in the championship, essentially forcing the Mini Pioneers out of their chance to play tomorrow. “They just feel they are outmatched athletically and physically," North Ridgeville division director Chris Miscudo told Roberson.

But Elyria parents are alleging that racial epithets have followed them around all season, lofted across the field by the North Ridgeville players and parents. The tension boiled to a head last weekend, when an Oct. 29 game devolved into a pile-up on the field. According to Elyria parent Erica Kara, an assistant football coach from North Ridgeville leapt into the fray and punched her 11-year-old in the stomach. (He was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, where he was treated for a blunt-force abdomen injury. Kara said that he was spitting up blood on the field.)

From Roberson's report:
“I feel like they didn’t want us out here from the beginning, and it hit a boiling point on Saturday,” saidJohn Dixon, program director for the Pioneers. “I have parents working the first down markers and those are the ones catching the racial slurs and remarks going on. Parents have told me about this all season, but we have remained focused on the game.”

The championship event would have pitted the Pioneers against two other teams, but without players willing to take the field, Miscudo said those teams will forfeit. The elimination of the junior tackle team from championship games comes two weeks after the senior tackle team also was eliminated from its championship game.

Miscudo said the Pioneers are still considered the Inter-league champions and will receive trophies. Games involving other teams in the league will be played Saturday.

“I think our kids deserve to play on Saturday,” Dixon said. “I love the people who run the league, but they have let this get carried away. I don’t think it’s fair that the best team out there doesn’t get to play on championship day. No one does that. It just doesn’t happen, especially with all the other teams playing.”

The decision has been devastating, said Pioneer parent Sabrina Bibby.

It's unclear if anything will change for the Mini Pioneers between now and tomorrow.

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