10 will be punished for East-Harlandale fight
April 11, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated April 11, 2012 at 11:12 p.m.
The Harlandale Independent School District said 10 students have been disciplined for their role in an April 5 post game fight with Victoria East.
A decision was made Tuesday, said district spokeswoman Leslie Garza, although she added that she cannot elaborate on the disciplinary action because it is part of student records.
All the young men disciplined have yet to reach their 18th birthday, Garza said.
"The disciplinary action shows that we take this very seriously and the students actions will not be tolerated," Garza said. "This serves as a learning experience for all our athletes in how they represent themselves, their school and the district."
David Andrade and Esau Lopez were sent to the hospital following the incident. Andrade sustained a broken nose.
Harlandale players are alleged to have punched Andrade, Lopez, East head coach Tim Eaton and Wyatt Fimbel among others after losing a physical Class 4A sectional contest, 1-0.
Those on scene, including Victoria East assistant coach Brady Cagle, said Harlandale forward Jesus Gomez began the brawl when he punched Victoria East's Ben Flores.
The Harlandale ISD student-parent handbook states the soccer team would be under the same rules that apply during the school day. It cites students "will be subject to consequences established by the Student Code of Conduct or any stricter code of conduct for extracurricular participants established by the sponsor in accordance with Board policy."
Garza said the district reviewed the Indians game film to determine Tuesday's punishments.
Three student resource officers were among the 10 representatives of the Harlandale ISD faculty in attendance at the April 5 contest. Garza said head soccer coach Frank Aguilar, his staff and the East coaching staff should be commended for defusing the situation.
"We reviewed the game video and we interviewed everyone involved and all parties involved," Garza said. "There was evidence that it was one of our students that started the fight. Nine others got involved. Of course Victoria did fight back as well."
Harlandale ISD continues to investigate the incident to determine whether further actions will need to be taken from a law enforcement perspective. A decision on that will be made by the end of the week.
Tuesday's announcement was on the same night the best soccer season in Victoria East history concluded its season in a 1-0 loss to Pharr Valley View.
Victoria Independent School District athletic director Ralph Escalona declined comment about Wednesday's announcement.
Victoria East soccer coach Tim Eaton expressed optimism that justice will be done.
"They are educators," he said. "They are doing as good a job as they can with their program."
When the Titans lost to Pharr Valley View 1-0 in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal Tuesday night, the players were too heartbroken to discuss much beyond the disbelief that their season was over.
Fimbel and Flores did not play in Tuesday's loss because they were suspended for their on-field actions prior to the April 5 melee. Lopez entered the game with 4:14 remaining and made a diving save with less than 30 seconds remaining to keep the deficit 1-0. Meanwhile, Andrade did not take the field.
At the conclusion of that contest, the teams did not shake hands. However, Eaton and Valley View head coach Damian Magellan congratulated each other.
Eaton has coached soccer in the Victoria area for nearly 25 years and said he does not recall an incident like what transpired last week, where his opponents punched players and coaches following the customary postgame handshake.
"If (Harlandale) did not have the administration and the security on hand that they did have, it could have been a lot worse," Eaton said.
When asked whether the Harlandale incident is a teachable moment for the players, Eaton praised Cagle for his relationship with the students as well as his on and off the field mentoring with them.
"We try to prepare them, as coaches, for facing situations like that," Eaton said of the April 5 incident. "For our group it really says the quality and character of the Titans soccer program possesses."