St. Paul high school football players ask for second chance after suspension ends season

High school football players in St. Paul are asking for a second chance after they were suspended from post-season play.

It wasn’t the way seniors at Harding Senior High School envisioned ending their football season.

"It hurts just because this is the best season we've had in over 50 years. We definitely made history at Harding, so it sucks not being able to finish it out and try to make it state and win," said Ethan Hylton-Stevens, a Harding-Humboldt football player.

On Wednesday night during Harding-Humboldt’s game against Johnson Senior High School, fights broke out with just two and a half minutes left on the clock.

"What we did was not H-town football. And what Johnson did is probably not Johnson football neither," Hylton-Stevens said.

Harding-Humboldt players are now feeling the weight of those split-second decisions. A spokesperson for Saint Paul Public Schools said both teams were suspended because of the behavior and response of players and coaches. The one-game suspension means they will not be headed to the playoffs.

"I know that our team worked their butts off to get to where they are, and they deserve to be there," said Amy Hylton, Hylton-Stevens’ mom.

The players and their parents are not giving up. Hylton said she understands actions have consequences but feels the suspension goes too far for what happened on the field.

"It was hard because I feel like there was some personal fouls that were made that if the refs would have called them as they should have, the game wouldn't have escalated to the point that it did," Hylton said.

The teammates at Harding High School are now banding together. They’re creating an online petition and writing letters about what football means to them in hopes of encouraging the school district and league to reconsider the decision to keep them out of the postseason.

"It would be nice to have that second chance to try to finish out our season the way it was meant to be. And whether that was losing first round again or making all the way to state -- just what happened was not the way we wanted to finish it," Hylton-Stevens said.

Here’s the full statement from Saint Paul Public Schools:

"Due to the behavior and response of players and coaches in both programs, a significant number of ejections were made in Wednesday’s Harding/Humboldt versus Johnson football game. In coordination with the Minnesota State High School League, we determined multiple Code of Conduct violations occurred, resulting in suspensions that will prevent both teams from participating in post-season section play. This one-game suspension will not negatively impact our student-athletes’ participation in winter sports. Our school communities, including principals, athletic directors and coaches, are committed to coming together to make this a teaching moment for our student-athletes and to model good sportsmanship moving forward."