For the second time this season, our prep football coverage is not complete without making a post-game visit to the hospital. And once again, the medical attention is for something other than a normal football-related injury, as was the contaminated water consumed by Altamont players in a game last month.
In the moments after Springville's 19-14 victory over visiting Carbon, Springville assistant coach Jim Young was pulling an official away from a confrontation with a Carbon crowd and ended up on the ground, blindsided by a punch that knocked him out cold for several minutes and broke a cheekbone - an injury that kept him hospitalized until 4 a.m. Saturday morning.Carbon fans were apparently upset with the officiating all during the Region 8 contest, with a late-game call only adding fuel to the fire. In the closing seconds, the Dinos appeared to score the game-winning touchdown on a pass, but it was nullified - as were Carbon's hopes for winning - by a penalty called during the play on one of the Dinos' interior lineman trying to provide pass protection.
When the game closed moments later, the officiating crew was confronted by Carbon players, coaches and fans. According to Springville Head Coach Ray Newbury, Red Devil coaches and players joined the swelling crowd to intercede, with Young pulling an official away from threatening individuals.
Carbon Principal Larry Leonard confirmed that a Carbon assistant coach had been involved in the altercation, but said no disciplinary action has been considered pending an investigation into the situation and the circumstances that led up to it. "It's bad to see an incident like that happen, but there were elements on both sides that helped to precipitate and provoke it."
The incident is being investigated by Springville police.
Carbon Head Coach Don Gressman was unavailable for comment Saturday.
"We feel bad about the incident and we're sorry that it happened," Leonard said. "It was a volatile situation that kept escalating as the game progressed."
The bus carrying the Dino football team had a police escort through Spanish Fork Canyon, but an unescorted bus carry the Carbon pep squad and other students was egged before leaving Utah County.
Leonard cited few law-enforcement officers at the game, adding that it was the Carbon administration that later asked for more backup. He also questioned an unannounced search of one Carbon bus by Springville police officers, adding that despite inquiries the officers never revealed the purpose of their search.
However, Leonard said Carbon is committed to resolving the differences. "We've always had good relations with Springville. "We're going to do everything we can to defuse the situation, to let clearer heads prevail and to re-establish our good relations with Springville."
AND NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY: Part of the problem stems from Carbon's ongoing frustration with the football officiating in its games - not only this season but for years. And Leonard says its one reason why the altercation arose Friday night following the Springville game.
"The officiating was very bad - the worst we've ever seen," said Leonard, saying that most officiating crews have been comprised of Utah County residents. Some, he says, work for Region 9 member high schools, while others have strong emotional ties to schools in towns where they reside or are officiating games involving their alma maters.
The result, as Leonard sees it, is a subconscious, unintentional bias present against the teams from Price. "It's natural to go with the first inclination." he said.
Meanwhile, any Price-based officials are not allowed to work league games involving Carbon, but with supposed "home" official crews often coming from Utah County - or "over the hill," as Leonard calls it.
The thinking, then, has Carbon getting "homered" by the officials all season long - even in Price. "We're facing home-town officials on our own field. . . . (It has continued) for years and years - it's a situation that has existed forever."
If Carbon is so concerned, does Leonard have a solution? "I'm not sure, but it needs to be recognized that that is a source of some of the problem."
Nevertheless, complaints with the officiating is no excuse to use physical threats or fisticuffs as resolution or retribution.