Jesuit dismisses assistant football coach who struck player on helmet

The incident occurred during Friday night’s Jesuit-Tampa Catholic showdown.
Jesuit, which ended its regular season by beating rival Tampa Catholic, has a playoff game this Friday night against Pinellas Park.
Jesuit, which ended its regular season by beating rival Tampa Catholic, has a playoff game this Friday night against Pinellas Park. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]
Published Nov. 5, 2023|Updated Nov. 10, 2023

Jesuit High’s resounding 66-35 triumph Friday against longtime rival Tampa Catholic has been tarnished by video footage of a Tigers assistant striking a player on the side of the helmet during the game.

On Sunday evening, the school released a statement from its president, Fr. Richard C. Hermes, indicating the coach — who was not named but is identified as a “part-time assistant” — has been dismissed.

“This behavior contradicts what the school stands for and is completely contrary to the expectations we have for coaches, moderators and faculty members, who are to be role models for our students and mentors in their development as young men,” Hermes said in the statement, which was issued to all the school’s families.

“We have reached out to the student, who was not injured in the incident, and to his family. We have met with the coach and informed him that he no longer will be coaching Jesuit football or assisting the school in any other capacity.”

The video clip, which surfaced earlier this weekend on social media, shows a Tigers defensive player wearing No. 94 trying to scurry off the field before the ball is snapped by Tampa Catholic. Upon reaching the sideline, the assistant hit the player on the left side of the helmet with what appeared to be a closed hand. The video shows the assistant berating the player after he removes his helmet.

Attempts to reach the parents of the player Saturday evening were unsuccessful.

After the player who was struck walked past the assistant coach, during a timeout, the coach began yelling at another group of players who were about to take the field for the next play.

Tigers coach Matt Thompson did not identify the assistant Saturday night and would only say “the matter is being addressed” when initially asked about the incident.

Whether legal action could follow remains unclear. Earlier this season, a coach at Atlanta’s Mays High was arrested on a charge of simple battery after video showed the coach getting in a player’s face and striking him in the stomach during a first-quarter timeout.

The Tigers (8-2) host Pinellas Park (6-4) in the opening round of the Class 3M, Region 2 playoffs Friday.

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Times corresponded Scott Purks contributed to this report.