HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut high school football coach was suspended Tuesday for one game after acknowledging he used an opponent's play list that his team found during their game last month.
Southington High School principal Martin Semmel said Tuesday that he suspended coach D.J. Hernandez after the coach admitted using the list of coded plays from an armband lost by a Manchester High School player. Southington beat Manchester 28-14 on Oct. 22.
Manchester coach Marco Pizzoferrato told the Hartford Courant last week that film from the game shows the play card attached to Hernandez's clipboard.
Hernandez, a 24-year-old former University of Connecticut quarterback and wide receiver, told Semmel that he only used the list on four plays during a Manchester scoring drive in the third quarter.
"The administration's investigation determined that Coach Hernandez's actions did not adhere to the district's high expectations for all Southington Public School coaches," Semmel said in a release.
Kevin O'Donnell, Manchester's principal, said Monday that he has sent a protest letter to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in Connecticut.
Larry Williams, the chairman of the CIAC's football committee, had not seen the letter but said the alleged incident might not rise to the level of cheating.
"It's what we call ethics between coaches and good sportsmanship," he said. "I don't think it's cheating per se."
Williams said he is hopeful the two schools can agree on an appropriate resolution to the issue. If not, he said the CIAC is prepared to get involved. The group's board is scheduled to meet on Nov. 18.
"We need to make sure we produce good citizens, and that's what this game is all about," he said. "These are all teaching moments."
Before Southington's announcement, O'Donnell said there had been multiple conversations between the two schools, but no adequate resolution.
Semmel said Hernandez would abide by any other punishment the CIAC might decide to impose.
"Coach Hernandez holds himself accountable for his actions and accepts his consequence," Semmel said. "The Administration has complete confidence in Coach Hernandez and his ability to lead our football program now and in the future.
Hernandez is the brother of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. He is in his first year at Southington, which is 7-1 with two games left to play.
He will sit out Friday's home game against East Hartford.
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