BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Canisius High School football captain can’t play in this weekend’s championship game.
After working for four years to get to this point, the team is going; but number 58, linebacker James Thomas, has to sit out.
“He’s definitely very sad. He’s happy for his team, because they’re going this far,” Tamara Lewis, Thomas’ mother said.
During last Saturday’s game a referee called a penalty on a play in the second quarter.
Thomas’ family attorney said the ref threw James out of the game because he threw a punch.
Due to state law, he can’t play in the next game. It’s the last one of the season.
“The frustrating part is that it was wrong. He is not receiving the penalty that he deserves,” Lewis said. “He did not do what they said he did and I do not believe the punishment fits the crime.”
Canisius officials reviewed the tape and saw that Thomas did not throw a punch.
Their athletic director said it was a face mask penalty which usually gets a 15 yard penalty.
“I know there was a flag thrown for the face mask. We accept that, but that’s part of football,” Lewis said.
Canisius officials said they don’t agree with the call and that they filed an appeal with the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association, but it was not overturned.
Canisius’ Athletic Director said the league director determines if the player was ejected from a game properly.
Thomas’ attorney said the ejection is being upheld due to a flagrant act. Now they want to know whether the play in question was flagrant.
“There have been face mask penalties all over the place,” Lewis said. “There was no aggression. No malice. He was playing football.”
Thomas’ attorney is still working to get the ruling overturned; but time is running out, because the championship game is on Sunday.