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High school football: Cottonwood football player injured in assault at Skyline

Published: Saturday, Sept. 5 2015 4:16 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A Cottonwood Colts football player was allegedly assaulted during halftime by Skyline supporters during Friday night's highly anticipated Region 2 football game at Skyline High School.

Lo Falemaka, a sophomore defensive end for Cottonwood, went in search for a restroom during halftime. He then was confronted by four men.

"They said to me 'So you're from Cottonwood, right?' and I said 'yeah.' Then I turned the corner to see if there was a bathroom and one of them swung at me right in the cheek," said Falemaka, "Right after that, a kid came and kicked me. Then on the way down grabbing my knee he got me with another punch.

"Then they just took off. It all happened really fast. My leg was hurting really bad, and I couldn't get up on it. This guy came around the corner and asked me if I was OK and I asked him to go get help."

Josh Lyman, the head coach of Cottonwood, was surprised with how things unfolded that night, which saw the Colts beat the Eagles, 24-17.

"I didn't find out until right before halftime (ended)," said Lyman, "The administration and the school cop came up to me at the end of the second quarter and let us know what happened. They brought him into the locker room, and he was beaten pretty badly."

Falemaka sustained multiple injuries, including facial wounds and a possible torn ACL that would end his season and require several months of physical rehabilitation.

There are no leads on the assailants, and no charges have been filed. The Unified Police Department is encouraging anyone who witnessed the situation or has information regarding the attack to contact the UPD immediately. An increase of security at high school football games will be implemented to prevent similar incidents.

"It's sad that this thing happens. I don't know if it's jealously, it's sad that my son has to sit out," said Lo's mother, Ileini Falemaka, "It's his favorite thing to do, and now he has to take it easy because it can damage him in the long run."

"What can I do?" said Ileini when asked if she was looking into hiring a lawyer for legal purposes. "It happened so fast he doesn't even know who it is. They aren't prosecuting anyone because he doesn't know it was."

"They threw eggs in the background, too, at our fans," said Ron Halbert, the defensive coordinator for the Colts. "It was all kind of crazy up there. I don't know what happened with Skyline, but they just got on the bus because it was a terrible atmosphere. There wasn't a lot of security. "It really made our kids very upset who were good friends with him. We had to calm the players down, because they got really upset seeing his broken face and his knee blown out. We had to tell them to keep it under control."

"It's probably some kids that probably don't even go to school there or graduated," said Vince Moe, the defensive line coach at Cottonwood. "They're a great program and I don't know if these kids got kicked out of school. It's just unfortunate that some of their fans did this, but hopefully they catch them."

Skyline High School athletic director Deb Bennett declined to comment late Monday night but an unidentified individual during an interview with KUTV said: "Here at Skyline we don't really have that. We hate to have anyone come here and feel that they are not safe. We are just devastated by the fact that this took place here."

Lo Falemaka will soon undergo an MRI procedure to find out the extent of the damage to his knee in the next few days. In the meantime, he's trying to move on and continue to try and get healthy and back on the field.

"The doctor says I have to work in physical therapy," said Lo. "I'm just trying to forget about it all."

e-mail: tphibbs@desnews.com

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