The parent of a North Texas high school football player has filed a bullying complaint against a rival team's coaching staff after a 91-0 loss.
The undefeated Aledo Bearcats have made a habit of soundly defeating their opponents this season. After seven games, the team is outscoring the opposition 485-47.
A Western Hills High School parent filed the bullying complaint after Bearcats defeated the Fort Worth school 91-0 on Friday.
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"Never; I've never heard of a bullying report in a football game," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said Monday.
Buchanan said he started substituting players in the first quarter. He also said the game clock ran continuously starting toward the end of the third quarter.
But when asked why the team did not simply start kneeling the ball -- in effect, stop trying to play the game -- Buchanan was clear in his answer.
"To go out and tell your kids, 'No, I don't want you to play hard, because we're ahead,' that's against every fundamental coaching strategy that you have," Buchanan said.
Western Hills head coach John Naylor told NBC DFW after Monday's practice that he disagrees with the parent who claimed that the Aledo coaching staff bullied his players.
The Texas Education Agency defines bullying as:
"Bullying occurs when a person is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength."
The Aledo Independent School District will investigate the complaint against its football coaching staff.
Under state law, Aledo's principal must investigate the complaint and prepare a report. The complaint was filed with the school district, which the law requires to provide bullying complaint forms on its websites.
Superintendent Derek Citty said his district will take the complaint just as seriously as it would a complaint that a group of students within the district is picking on a classmate.
The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school sports in Texas, only has a mercy rule for six-man football that ends a game when one team gets ahead by 45 points by halftime or later. There is no mercy rule for 11-man football, though coaches can agree to end a game early, UIL spokeswoman Kate Hector said.
Buchanan said Tuesday he wasn't aware of that option.
There were about 1,500 fans still in the stands at the end of the game, most of them Aledo's, he said. About 5,000 were at the Bearcats' stadium in Aledo at the beginning because it was a recognition night for band members' parents. A cold front that brought rain added another reason to leave when the game started to get out of hand, Buchanan said.
While blowouts are not uncommon in Texas high school football, Aledo has racked up several of them this season, due in part to being placed in a new district that has not been as strong in football. The Bearcats' average victory margin in four district games is 77 points.
Buchanan's team, which is averaging 69.3 points a game with a 7-0 record, ran just 32 plays but scored on about every third one during Friday's game. Aledo rushed for 391 yards. It scored eight touchdowns on the ground, two each on passes and punt returns, and one on a fumble recovery.
Western Hills had 79 yards rushing and 67 yards passing.
The UIL follows NCAA rules, but most other states follow guidelines of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said Bob Colgate, the federation's director of sports and sports medicine.
Colgate said many of the federation's 48 member states and the District of Columbia have adopted a mercy rule in 11-man football. He noted that a survey published in February found that 16 states reported using a mercy rule with point margins, which are set by individual states, ranging from 30 points to 50 points.
Aledo Principal Dan Peterson said his report on the bullying complaint should be completed this week. It will be given to the father who filed the complaint and the staff at Western Hills.
Several parents of Western Hills players who attended Friday night's game described the loss as embarrassing. One parent, who declined to speak on the record, said that the Aledo coaches could have made more of an effort to keep the score down.
Buchanan insisted he and his fellow coaches did exactly that.
"In actuality, we probably could have scored a lot more," he said. "We did try to keep it down. I was really fearful that we were going to score 100."