LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Those running the Liberty Little Leopards are claiming racial discrimination as the reason one of its football teams has been banned from the playoffs of the Steel Valley Youth Conference.
They’re vowing to take the issue to court Friday to ensure their team gets to play on Sunday.
Wayne Holloway, a parent and trainer involved with the Liberty Little Leopards, stood among the players, coaches, and other parents after Thursday evening’s practice and vowed to right what he felt was wrong.
“I want to cry right now. I will fight for each and every one of y’all,” he said.
The kids then left and the adults discussed what started as two Liberty youth football teams being banned from the playoffs of the 12-team Steel Valley Youth Conference.
Liberty Little Leopards Vice President Antwan Rutland said the league found no dirty hits or illegal contact.
Before meeting, Liberty was told an online vote of league officials determined the youngest team, the Squidgets, could play but the oldest kids, the Midgets, were still out.
“We will be in court tomorrow, trying to push for our Midgets to get the playoffs if the league won’t do it tonight,” Rutland said.
Earlier in the season, Liberty’s Midget team forfeited three games after league officials said they used ineligible players.
“That’s the only reason we took the games. To stop the investigations, to stop the harassment of the family. That was the only reason,” Rutland said.
They thought they could still make the playoffs with three losses but the league changed the rules, stating that only the first five games counted toward making the playoffs.
According to Liberty officials, their teams are the only ones in the league that are predominately black.
Holloway said it’s “definitely” about race.
“My wife go to the car, they stick their middle finger and call her the n-word. So you tell me if that’s racism.”
WKBN 27 First News tried calling the conference president twice but our calls were never returned.
Liberty officials said the president was supposed to be at Thursday night’s parents meeting but canceled late.
If the Midgets wouldn’t have had to forfeit, they would be undefeated. They still haven’t been scored on.
The Squidgets, the younger team that has been permitted to play in the playoffs, are not only undefeated and unscored on but they haven’t even given up a first down.