ROOSEVELT, Utah – A high school head football coach has suspended his entire varsity team from practice due to bullying and a lack of respect from his players.
Matt Labrum is the head coach at Union High School, and he said his players have a lot of work to do between now and Friday’s game if they want to prove they deserve to represent their school on the field.
“It's an honor to put on your school's jersey, and I think sometimes we lose that fact, in this world of me, me, me,” he said. “We are representing the whole school, the whole community.”
The upcoming game could be important in determining whether the Union High Cougars will make the playoffs, but the team hasn’t practiced all week. Labrum said the players have been busy doing other things.
“We did some community service Monday,” he said. “Today we have a study hall scheduled during practice time. They have the opportunity to pass off a quote that we've given to them.”
Labrum said coaches on the football team received some complaints about their players for things like bullying, disrespect and poor grades.
Team captain Zach Roll said he should have done more to prevent the bad behavior.
"I wasn't part of the disrespect, but I saw it go on just as much as everybody else,” he said. "And I'm just as much at fault for not making it stop."
Labrum said he expects the bleachers to be full on game night, and he said he doesn’t want to keep his guys from playing in their homecoming game—but he said there are a few things his players need to do before they put their jerseys back on.
Labrum said he’s got a team of good boys, but he said he is trying to make them into better men. Roll said that lesson is sinking in.
"The majority of the football players on our team aren't going to go to the next level and probably not going to go to the pros,” he said. “Being a good person is all about what high school football is about. And our coaches are trying to make us realize that there's a lot more to life than football."