Following "unacceptable behavior" and "poor sportsmanship" during a Friday night football game, the varsity program has been suspended and the head coach is stepping down at a high school in South Easton, Massachusetts.
Superintendent Luis Lopes said in a statement Monday that he made the decision to immediately suspend the Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School football team after it came to his attention that several varsity players and members of the coaching staff exhibited "unprincipled behavior not consistent with our school's code of conduct."
Lopes said Head Coach Dominique Williams is stepping down but will still be involved with the team in a support capacity.
"I know Coach Williams to be a stand-up person," Lopes said. "As the head coach he feels responsible for what happened."
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
According to Lopes, some of the players and coaching staff taunted their opponents and shouted obscenities at them both during and after the Nov. 5 game against the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School team.
Lopes said multiple penalties were called during the game, but that the behavior of students and coaching staff continued after it, as well, and was "not at all consistent with the values of our school community."
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
“I was actually at the game,” said Southeastern Senior Haley Austin. “I didn't notice anything but I know it got a little rowdy at the end of the night.”
“I feel sorry for the other team and how we acted,” said Southeastern Junior Connor O’Brien. “It made us look like we’re jerks.”
Southeastern won 27-0 but it might be their last win of the season. The team will forfeit this Friday’s game against Shawsheen Valley Tech and school officials will be closely monitoring the behavior of its players in the coming weeks to determine if they will take the field for the final game of the season against West Bridgewater on Thanksgiving Day, Lopes said.
“Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School prides itself on empowering students to demonstrate positive leadership and citizenship and contribute to a culture of mutual respect, both within school and when representing the school during extracurricular activities," Lopes said in his statement. "This behavior is unacceptable, disappointing and goes against our core values."
School officials will also meet with all coaches and athletes to ensure that the basic tenets of sportsmanship are known and followed by all during the upcoming season, Lopes added.
In his statement, the superintendent extended his sincere apologies to the members and coaching staff of the Upper Cape Cod team, as well as those in attendance. Lopes said the lack of discipline and respect shown for their opponents Friday night is not characteristic of Southeastern's athletic program.
Lopes said he also directly called Superintendent Roger Forget to apologize for the behavior of Southeastern's staff and players. Additionally, the schools' athletic directors have been in touch since Friday.
Forget confirmed in a statement to NBC10 Boston Monday night that the Upper Cape administration has been in contact with Southeastern's administration to discuss what happened.
"We trust this will be a learning moment for all involved," Forget said.
According to Forget, the Upper Cape team "experienced a lack of true sportsmanship and was treated with great disrespect" last Friday night.
Despite what they were confronted with, Forget said his school's coaching staff and students acted as they should.
"Coaching is not just X’s and O’s; it’s about providing guidance to shape the futures of our student athletes," Forget said. "Upper Cape Tech’s coaching staff did just that and our students showed great restraint and maturity."
Lopes agreed in his own statement that participation in athletic activities should not only be fun, but should also provide lasting life lessons and worthwhile experiences for all of the students involved.
"We have worked to ensure that everyone who puts on a Southeastern uniform or coaches one of our teams is held to the highest standards of honor, integrity and sportsmanship," Lopes said.
The events that transpired Friday night will be thoroughly reviewed, Lopes said, to ensure that "such unacceptable behavior" is not repeated in the future.