Sequoia threatens penalty in football melee 

Sequoia High School sports teams will no longer play games at Half Moon Bay High School following alleged racial slurs and violence at a football game a week ago, Principal Morgan Marchbanks said.

Unless the case is investigated by the Cabrillo Unified School District and the Half Moon Bay Police Department, Sequoia teams will not play at Half Moon Bay again, Marchbanks said.

"That’s the responsible thing for an administrator, who is charged with the safety of her students, to do," she said. "I just wish there were a way to protect our players and spectators from what they experienced."

The game — Half Moon Bay’s last home game of the season — was close, with the Sequoia Cherokees narrowly winning 20-17. Both teams are in the Ocean Division of the Peninsula Athletic League and play each other routinely.

Marchbanks and her junior varsity and varsity football squads are reviewing tapes of the game during which the players claim racial slurs were shouted in their direction from people in the stands at last Friday on the Half Moon Bay High School football field.

Marchbanks said she received a verbal apology from Interim Cabrillo Unified School DistrictSuperintendent Allan Kass and saw a written apology to her players and coaches.

Kass and administrators from Half Moon Bay High School did not return The Examiner’s requests for comments Thursday.

"Because my players were so familiar with it, they’re narrowing it down to which plays in the game they were said," Marchbanks said. "We’re trying to get [the police and the school district] enough information to pursue it."

Varsity defensive tackle Siosifa Lauese said he allegedly heard racial slurs from the crowd directed at his black and Hispanic teammates and what he thinks were rocks being thrown at their bus as they left the school after the game, escorted by Half Moon Bay police officers.

"Football’s a tough sport, but when it goes to that level it’s sad," he said.

Police and paramedics routinely attend sporting events on high school campuses all over the Peninsula for security purposes or if there are injuries sustained during play.

Half Moon Bay police Sgt. John Sanchez said the department did not have a heightened police presence at last Friday’s game and only two officers were assigned to the game, as is standard practice.

In addition to the racial slurs, Marchbanks said eggs were thrown at fans and players and "streakers" ran naked in front of the crowd.

Half Moon Bay police Cpt. Michael O’Malley said none of his officers reported being hit with objects after the game. The department is planning to send two officers to Pacifica for Half Moon Bay’s Friday game against Terra Nova High School, however, but unless charges are filed in response to the Sequoia game, there will be no investigation, he said.

Players’ behavior called to fore

The incident Friday at a Half Moon Bay football game is not an isolated one, Sequoia High School Principal Morgan Marchbanks said.

Her office received reports earlier this year about alleged homophobic taunts against Sequoia water polo players at a game against Half Moon Bay High School in September, she said.

"Three schools in our district and I presume more have had problems with Half Moon Bay players and their behavior," Marchbanks said.

Sequoia teacher and parent Ron Gordon said he personally witnessed the water polo incident while watching his son play for the junior varsity team. Gordon said he wrote an eight-page letter to the commissioner of the Peninsula Athletic League reporting the issue, alleging that the Half Moon Bay players used anti-gay epithets against the Sequoia team during the game. Gordon, however, has yet to hear back from the PAL on whether any action will be taken, he said.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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