Arizona officials rule that team accused of intentionally injuring opponent not at fault

Prep Rally

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro High can rest easy knowing it won't face any punishment for what transpired during last Friday night's game against Tempe (Ariz.) High. After a series of dangerous plays, Tempe forfeited the contest with 1:33 left in the first half after four players were injured, including two who were taken by ambulance to the local hospital.

According to the Arizona Republic, following the game a Tempe state lawmaker, Rep. Ed Ableser, requested Arizona Interscholastic Association officials investigate the injuries that occurred in the first half, claiming Saguaro was playing with a "win-at-any-cost" mentality that included multiple late hits, five personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"Players were coming out and saying 'we're going to [mess] you up,' and 'you're next,'" Ableser said after the game. "They brought an ambulance out on two separate occasions" to the Saguaro High School football field. "Potentially Saguaro players were going after Tempe players to hurt them on purpose."

While the game was clearly a hard-hitting affair, AIA officials reported that after looking at game tape and meeting with both teams, Saguaro wouldn't face punishment of any kind, and that "there was no intent to harm" Tempe players during the game.

"Based on the evaluations and reports, there was no intent to harm another player that would be outside the rules of football," associate executive director of the AIA Chuck Schmidt told the Arizona Citizen.

Saguaro may be out of the woods following the ruling, but Tempe's still in hot water for pulling players off the field and forfeiting the game. The AIA won't make a ruling on the school's punishment until October, but there's a chance the school could face anything from "advisement to probation."

It's difficult to give an opinion on the game without seeing game tape, but I think it's ridiculous a team could face penalties of any sort for having the players' best interest at heart. Say what you will about Saguaro getting off without so much as a slap on the wrist, but the fact that the team wracked up five personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty before the first half tells you things were getting out of control.

Quite honestly, it's difficult to blame Tempe coaches for walking off the field -- especially when two players had to leave the game in an ambulance.

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