NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH - Tensions at a football game with 10 and 11-year-old players escalated quickly. Fingers point at a coach and parents claiming one of the coaches punched a kid and parents yelled racial slurs at the kids on the other team.
"You can see the marks on his stomach,” said Elyria Mini Pioneers Program Director Jon Dixon. “He was spitting up blood."
Jon Dixon with the Elyria Mini Pioneers says it all started with a scuffle on the field between players.
"It went from A to Z pretty quickly,” said Dixon.
Referees had already ejected the assistant coach from the other team. He apparently came back. Dixon says one of his players said that the coach punched him in the stomach.
"He is not making it up somebody did punch him,” said Dixon.
And that's not all.
"I heard the N word,” said Elyria Mini Pioneers Team Mom Shannon Groesser. “And I heard them calling them a-holes. Parents. Mothers were saying that."
After what happened, parents from the rest of the league refused to let their kids play the Elyria Mini Pioneers and decided to forfeit. In a statement, the North Ridgeville Football League said the parents cited safety concerns and “at no time were they suspended, removed or thrown out of the league.”
"Our kids really never did anything wrong other than win,” said Groesser.
On Saturday, the other teams will finish the season while the league leading Pioneers sit out.
"I feel sorry for the league,” said Dixon. “I feel sorry for our kids and our parents because they worked so hard to be a part of something and earn something and to have it taken away from them at the end like that."
"Having to tell these kids they do not get to play in the Super Bowl that was the hardest thing,” said Groesser. “To look at their faces. Seeing them cry."
"And I think the kids of Elyria that have worked so hard to get to this point deserve better,” said Dixon.
Chris Miscuda with the North Ridgeville Football League says he does not know if a coach punched a player. According to a statement, because of league rules, that coach “will not be permitted to coach during this Saturday’s games.”
The North Ridgeville Police Department is investigating.
Meanwhile, the parents and coaches of the Elyria Mini Pioneers are throwing the players a little party for them this Saturday. They are also looking for a team that would be willing to play them. The league is still giving them all trophies and did say the Elyria Mini Pioneers earned the title of "Inter-League Champions."