A Lodi youth football program was informed Tuesday that its season has been suspended for the rest of the 2019 season for what team officials described as violating league rules and the league's code of conduct.
However, the Lodi Colts’ four levels of youth football teams — rookies, starters, junior varsity and varsity — and their cheerleading squads could be back in action before the month is over.
According to Erin Perez, president of the Colts, an emergency meeting was held among the 10 youth football and cheerleading programs that are part of the Central Valley Football Youth and Cheer on Monday in Manteca. The Colts were in a league that also includes the Lodi Junior Flames and the Lodi Titans.
Kim Ruoff, president of the Lodi Boosters of Boys/Girls Sports, the organization that oversees the Lodi Colts youth football program, said that a unanimous vote of 8-0 was in favor of removing the Colts from the league. The presidents from each program, with the exception of the Colts and the Modesto Raiders, voted. An email was sent to Colts’ officials late Tuesday morning.
Last Saturday at the Grape Bowl the Colts hosted the Modesto Raiders. Taylor Diede, who is a varsity team mom for the Colts, told the News-Sentinel that a team mom was assaulted by people from the Raiders’ side. Diede said that a report was filed with the Lodi Police Department.
Attempts to reach league and Raiders officials about the incident were unsuccessful. A call to the Lodi Police Department was not returned.
At Salas Park on early Tuesday evening, approximately 300 parents and supporters of the Colts youth football teams attended a meeting held underneath one of the park’s gazebos. Ruoff joined Perez and husband Pete Perez, who is the football coordinator, in addressing the parents.
One parent asked if families would receive their money back if the season has officially come to an end. No specific answer was given.
Erin Perez said she was recently suspended for violating a league rule regarding player eligibility. The suspension stemmed from allowing a Bear Creek High freshman, who was on the school’s junior varsity football team, to play for the Colts’ varsity team. The player had played in three games after Bear Creek High folded its junior varsity team in September.
The Colts’ varsity squad also had to forfeit three games in which the Bear Creek freshman participated. On the field, the Colts were 7-1 but are now 4-3.
“That was a hard pill to swallow,” Perez said.
Perez said that the league’s board had given its approval for the freshman to play on the Colts’ varsity team. The player in question is 14 years old.
“There is no limit as to how many freshmen you can have,” Perez said. “If I was hiding something or there was anything malicious behind it, I wouldn’t have called the chairman of the (league’s) board and asked him.”
For the season, the Colts’ junior varsity team has an 8-0 record. The rookies are 4-3 and the starters 1-7.
Perez said she and her husband were OK with the Central Valley Youth Football and Cheer removing them from their respective roles in the Colts’ program if that was brought to the table.
“The motion was originally to remove my husband and I, or just have the BOBS completely take over the Colts,” said Erin Perez, “and have us step back, which we were completely fine with.”
Erin Perez said that a representative with North Central Youth Football-Cheer, which the Colts were affiliated with last season, contacted her to allow their football and cheerleading squads to join the league if they wish.
Perez and Ruoff said that the BOBS plan to have an emergency meeting to discuss if they should move forward playing in the new league for the reminder of the season.
“They said they wanted to help us out for the rest of the season,” Perez said.
Should BOBS take up the NCYFC offer, most likely, the Colts would not play until Saturday, Oct. 26, Perez noted.