Two Nevada youth football coaches are facing criminal charges in connection with a bloody fist fight in front of dozens of players and parents after a game in northeastern Nevada.
The coaches are accused of "chest-bumping," punching and yelling obscenities at each other during the Oct. 16 midfield fight in the casino town of West Wendover along the Utah line.
Prosecutors filed misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace charges last week against Luis Perez, 53, and Frank Sanchez, 38, in West Wendover Justice Court.
The fight stemmed from the final play of a game that involved 10- to 13-year-old boys and was won by Perez’s team, police said.
Perez told investigators he asked his quarterback to kneel down with the ball to end the game, but Sanchez tried to get his bigger players to hurt the quarterback.
Sanchez denied the allegation and maintained he acted in self-defense during the fight.
"There’s no association or league, youth or adult, that will accept that kind of behavior," Robert Loncar, head of the Great Basin Youth Football League, told The Associated Press. "The game was over and there was no reason for that.
"They let their tempers get the best of them. It’s just a very poor example. The kids watch everything and we adults need to be role models," he added.
Both coaches have unlisted phone numbers and could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys.
While witnesses disagree over who threw the first punch, they say the fight began after Perez and Sanchez got in a heated argument over the final play. The two exchanged punches until the fight was broken up, according to witnesses.
Both coaches refused medical attention at the time. Perez suffered a bloody nose and swollen eye, while Sanchez had no immediate visible injuries, police said.
The coaches, who have been permanently banned from the league, are scheduled to be arraigned May 8 in justice court.
Sanchez, in a statement to police, acknowledged he regretted the fight.
"I feel really bad for my action that (night)," he wrote. "I thought we were going to exchange words and that was all. We both made mistakes that night. We both hurt the sport and kids that we love.
"For that I will willfully (accept) any action against me … I believe that both of us made a huge mistake and hopefully we are forgiven by the kids and parents and community someday. I believe that Luis Perez and I will learn a lot from this and also believe that this will never happen to us again."
Sanchez had coached in the league for seven years without incident, while Perez was a first-year coach in it, Loncar said.
Loncar, a referee and friend of both coaches, stood between the quarterback and defensive rushers on the game’s final play.
"The quarterback might have got a glancing blow, but it wasn’t a violent hit if he got hit," he said. "I disagree with the rush in a situation like that, but recent events in the NFL precipitated that. They see NFL teams do it on TV, then they copy it (in youth football)."