Lebanon youth football team under fire after allegations from league

The Lebanon D2 Warriors Red team is under fire, along with a Dallas team.

Posted: Oct 22, 2021 6:41 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2021 6:41 PM

LEBANON, Ore. -- The Lebanon D2 Warriors Red team is under fire after allegations made by their league -- Mid Valley Pop Warner -- and the referee organization Mid Western Officials Association.

In an email to families Wednesday night, Mid Valley Pop Warner announced the conclusion of regular season games the weekend of Oct. 23. 

The email states: "An unprecedented number of games were called early this season, threats of violence were made against officials, multiple coaches were suspended for on-field conduct and an overall environment of poor sportsmanship permeated many of our sidelines and stands. All of this culminating in a vote last week by the Mid Western Football Officials of Oregon to discontinue service to MVPW for the remainder of 2021."

The Mid Western Football Officials said in a statement to Mid Valley Pop Warner: "We have identified two teams whose coaches and/or fans have repeatedly presented the most egregious threatening and unsportsmanlike behavior throughout this season."

Lebanon D2 Warriors Red and another team from Dallas, west of Salem, are the teams causing controversy. 

Parents and coaches of the D2 Warriors Red team said the allegations made are completely false.

"I've been to every game. There's never been any bullying, any violence or threats," said parent Brianna Garber. "The coaches have been nothing but respectful."

Head coach Justin Dodge has been working with Mid Valley Pop Warner for four years. He said he is disappointed in how the league handled this situation. 

Dodge said he was also taken aback by the most recent email to families from Pop Warner president Justin Adams claiming D2 Warriors Red coaches and parents planned to protest at a scheduled game between two other teams.

"It's hard for my parents to show up and protest at a game when I already have another game scheduled with another team at the same time," said Dodge.

Parent James Prater has two kids on the D2 Warriors Red team. He said referees were not being fair at games and it led to booing at stands.

"Getting into kids faces and telling them you can't play," Prater said. "You can't do this. Stop being a scoring play, the minute there was contact before our kids can go snatch the ball and make the touchdown. At the game we were exceptionally mad but there were never threats of violence. There were boos from the stands because it was obvious what was going on. At one point, I screamed, 'Are we playing two teams out here?'"

Parents said they had their children's best interest at heart.

"We wanted what's best for all the kids," said Garber. "We wanted what's best for everybody and we were never out to hurt anybody."

Amid game cancellations, Pop Warner offered a registration discount for players returning next season. However in most areas, only players under seventh grade can enroll in Pop Warner.

"There's going to be kids moving on from Pop Warner next year," said Dodge. "Those parents deserve a refund. They don't deserve 'you're not going to get your money back when you're not going to be here anyway.'"

KEZI 9 News reached out to Mid Valley Pop Warner and Mid Western Officials Association for comment but did not hear back.

The D2 Warriors Red team said they were able to find other games to kick off the season thanks to a different league taking them under their wing.

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