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High School Soccer Brawl Probed

March 10, 2000

PALESTINE, Texas (AP) _ Police are investigating a brawl that took place between high school soccer teams last week and expected to make arrests.

A Palestine coach and player were hospitalized after Athens players allegedly kicked them in the head, neck and back after a game Friday night.

``We do expect charges to be filed,″ said Palestine Capt. Charles Lanier. ``We are still in the investigative stages but we definitely have assault causing bodily injury, which is a misdemeanor.″

Lanier said he did not know how many students face charges. The University Interscholastic League and administrators from both school districts also are investigating.

The fight broke out after Palestine defeated Athens 3-2 in overtime.

Palestine coach Sam McCutchen and captain Brett Hart were treated for concussions and head and neck injuries after reportedly being kicked while trying to protect their own team. They were released from a hospital Saturday.

Hart has returned to school, but McCutchen is still under a doctor’s care.

The coach could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Earlier this week, he described the attack to the Athens Daily Review.

``Then someone kicked me in the head. ... I don’t remember anything after that,″ McCutchen said. ``Not until I woke up in the hospital.″

Athens soccer coach Jason Lawless told the paper he hopes the fight doesn’t tarnish his team’s reputation.

``It’s important to understand that all of this happened in about 10 or 15 seconds, and that it was in the context of a fight,″ Lawless said. ``It wasn’t like we went over there to attack anyone. Things got out of hand, but order was restored quickly, too. And other players and coaches from both teams had a lot to do with that. Not everybody was fighting.″

Palestine Independent School District Superintendent Mark Herric said the fight started after exchanges between Palestine fans and Athens players.

Neither school released the names of students involved in the fight.

Athens school officials suspended two players from the school’s final soccer game, against Corsicana, which Athens lost 3-0 Tuesday night. Athletic director Steve Gideon said one student involved could be permanently expelled from athletics.

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