The Blue Earth Area football team did not hold its postseason awards banquet.
Coaching staff sent a Nov. 28 letter to players and their parents telling them of their decision to call off the annual celebration.
“We had a lot of positives happen this season and players that deserve recognition,” the coaching staff wrote.
“But due to the extenuating circumstances at the end of the season, we will not be having our traditional banquet.”
Instead, coaches held a pizza party for the players Sunday in the Commons at the high school, the day the banquet had been scheduled.
With the investigation of the alleged beating “still ongoing,” the coaches wrote, “we don’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable position.”
The Bucs finished with a 7-5 record and qualified for the Class AA state playoffs.
A week after the team’s state quarterfinal loss to Pipestone on Nov. 10, police arrested four players who allegedly beat a teammate unconscious at a house party on Oct. 19 in Winnebago.
On Nov. 20, all were charged with felonies ranging from third-degree assault and aiding and abetting.
Police began investigating the incident on Nov. 9 after learning about it from a Faribault County sheriff’s deputy who is the resource officer at the high school.
The four players beat their 16-year-old teammate – a sophomore lineman – unconscious, says a criminal complaint, and took a cell phone video of the attack.
The complaint says one of the players showed it to him the next day.
Dale Hurley, the victim’s father, says the alleged attackers also showed the video to other teammates in the locker room.
Hurley says the players knew what happened, but his son covered up his injuries because he did not want to get his teammates in trouble.
The boy told his parents his swollen face and a black eye was the result of a friendly wrestling match that got carried away and a little rough.
When the boy suffered headaches and began vomiting, he told his parents he had the flu. He continued to go to football practice and played in two of the playoff games.
On Nov. 6 the victim’s mother, Tonya Hurley, took him to a doctor where his concussions were diagnosed.
While there, he told them of the beating and she reported the alleged assault to an assistant coach.
Hurley’s son did not play against Pipestone, however, the players who allegedly assaulted him did.
Dale Hurley says his son went back to school on Monday and still suffers from the effects of the concussions.
“My son is not going to be victimized anymore,” he says. “They should be the ones to go to a different school. And, I’m going to to everything I can to keep them from returning to school.”
Hurley says he’s feel bad for the deserving players who didn’t get a chance to celebrate their season with friends and family.
“I don’t believe it’s fair or right that all had to suffer because of a few players,” he says. “Everyone one of those seniors lost their banquet and were robbed of their rights.”
Meanwhile, two of the players appeared in Faribault County District Court on Monday.
Blake Barnett, 17, pleaded not guilty to charges of third-degree assault and aiding and abetting third-degree assault.
Barnett, who has moved with his family to Des Moines, is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 3 for a pre-trial hearing.
Caden Ochsendorf, 16, of Winnebago, also appeared in court on Monday, but state law required his hearing be closed to the public because he was 15 at the time of the alleged attack. He is also charged with third-degree assault and aiding and abetting.
Two other teammates will have court appearance later this month.
Wyatt Tungland, 18, of Frost, is charged with third-degree assault and aiding and abetting third-degree assault. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance on Dec. 18.
Dalton Nagel, 18, of Blue Earth is charged with third-degree aiding and abetting. He has an omnibus hearing set for Dec. 18.