A brawl that cut short a high school quarterfinal football playoff game between Hunter and American Fork will result in the suspension of 10 student-athletes from their next two games.
The Utah High School Activities Association announced the suspensions Wednesday morning but will not release the names or any information on the players. Both programs could face further penalties by the UHSAA's Executive Committee when it reviews the incident at its regular monthly meeting.
The players could also face penalties from their teams, schools or districts as well. Furthermore, American Fork police are looking into several specific incidents and could ask prosecutors to file charges.
"In keeping with the association's continuing emphasis on these sportsmanship policies, a number of ejections have been imposed as a result of various interviews, reports from game officials, reports from each member school, cooperation with the American Fork Police Department investigations, and review of multiple electronic recordings of the game," the UHSAA said in a press release. The press release also stated that any coach or player ejected for fighting or other violent behavior would miss no fewer than two games.
The suspensions hit American Fork the hardest as the Cavemen are making their first semifinal appearance in the playoffs Friday against Layton.
Three American Fork players suspended are all starters, and two are seniors.
For them, the suspension means they will miss both the semifinal appearance and, if the team manages to win against Layton, then they will miss the championship game. Otherwise, the suspension only affects the lone American Fork junior who will miss a second game next season.
"I don't even know what to compare it to," said American Fork coach Davis Knight. "These three young men are an integral part of our program."
He said there was no positive to be found in the situation.
"This is one where you don't find silver linings," Knight said. "I'm not naive enough to think we can cover this. We will have young men step up, we'll practice and we'll make adjustments. But we're 9-3, and those boys started every game."
For the Hunter students, the suspensions may be a secondary concern to the action taken by the school and district. Principal Maile Loo said school officials decided, after reviewing video and talking with players and coaches, that all seven students would serve suspensions from school. One student wasn't in school on Wednesday and was unable to be contacted. Loo declined to give the lengths of the suspensions.
The UHSAA's punishment means the four of the Hunter students who are juniors will miss two games next season. Three others are seniors and are unaffected by the UHSAA's punishment. Loo said that she would impose a two-game suspension on any of the seniors who played other sports, although it wasn't clear if any of them did.
Additionally, Loo spent 20 minutes discussing the action taken by the UHSAA and the school with the football class on Wednesday morning.