MN high school player sues over football penalty

A few days ago, John Millea, the outstanding blogger for the Minnesota State High School League and former Star Tribune sports reporter, penned a heartwarming description of what Minnesota high school football is all about.

He was at the Class 2A semifinal playoff game between the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers, who hosted the Spartans of St. Clair/Mankato Loyola.

The Buccaneers prevailed, 35-13. But it was the scene afterward, and Millea’s recounting of it, that prompts people to realize that maybe there’s more to this football thing than concussions.

“You are a great group and you will accomplish incredible things in your life. Spartan family for life, that’s what you guys are.”

Think about that. Spartans for life. For sports in which the schools don’t have cooperative teams, kids from St. Clair are Cyclones and Mankato Loyola teams are the Crusaders. But during football season, everyone is a Spartan.

With the coach’s remarks complete, the players broke it down for the final time. The boys stood, gathered in a tight bunch, raised their hands together in the middle and said, “One, two three! Brothers!”

Bosshart walked to his wife Cheryl and gave her a kiss. The players’ families and friends stood 20 or so yards away, waiting for the team’s private moment to end. And then another incredible thing happened: It didn’t end.

The players remained together, some hugging, some finding one or more of the coaches to say thank you and share an embrace. Coaches patted boys on the helmet, returned the thank you and told them they loved them. The boys then gathered together once more – not wanting the moment to end — each of them kneeling, for a few private words. Helmets removed and heads bowed, they prayed.

And then, only then, did the boys begin reuniting with their families. A strapping teenager hugged his grandpa and wept on his shoulder. Moms, dads, friends offered congratulations and condolences on the end of a great season.

Nice. That’s how it should be.

Here’s how it shouldn’t be:

Marco Cavallaro — or maybe it was his parents — didn’t like the penalty called him for a flagrant hit on a quarterback during his East Ridge High School’s (Woodbury) final regular season game against Centennial, won by East Ridge in a thrilling game.

Maybe it was a good call; maybe it wasn’t. That’s football.

‘‘The decisions of contest officials are final’ and therefore there is no option for appeal,” the MSHSL rules say about the officiating at football games.

He got tossed from the game, which earned him a one-game suspension. And he got a suspension for four more games because he’d been previously suspended this season.

So no playoffs for young Marco.

But high school sports can teach you things you can use in life. So, he and his family got a lawyer and went to court on Wednesday so the kid could play in the postseason, the Star Tribune reports. A judge will decide sometime this week.

“The broader picture is the injustice,” Chris Cavallaro said. “If this was something he deserved, so be it. But this is not what he deserved.”

The Newport family started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the legal fight.

“My teammates support me,’’ the young man said. “They respect the path I’m going down.’”

Let’s just say East Ridge isn’t exactly St. Clair/Mankato Loyola.