Breaking News
More () »

Tamaqua football team 'emphasizing positives' after hazing controversy

A high school football team in Schuylkill County is preparing for its first game, months after police charged four players related to the assaults of two teammates.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — The Tamaqua Blue Raiders' 2021 football season ended abruptly. 

The last time Tamaqua Area High School football saw the field was in November, just a few days before the success of the season would be overshadowed by alleged crimes.

Tamaqua Police charged four players after an alleged attack on two freshmen teammates inside the football house just off campus. 

Three players were expelled, including an 18-year-old who was charged as an adult with assault and harassment. 

The team forfeited its scheduled playoff game. 

Fast forward to this week, and the Tamaqua team is taking final practice reps ahead of game one of the 2022 season, hoping to move forward.

"Unfortunate situations, it's unfortunate, but we tried to emphasize the positives," said Sam Bonner, head football coach. "In my mind, I think about all of the great kids that I coached. I think I have four of them on my staff right now. One is a State Police officer; three are teachers. I've coached great kids in the past, and I'm coaching great kids now. It's hard to turn your back on kids that are great kids."

The head coach said he's watched his team come together in the face of obstacles.

"Sometimes, when times get tough, it's easy to walk away," Bonner said. 'We have a lot of kids that really stuck tight with one another and decided to get back to that hard work and bonding aspect of football."

Bonner said the coaching staff is staying involved on and off the field, acting as role models.

"I don't think there was a day in the weight room where we didn't have six or seven coaches there coaching the kids as well as pushing all the positive aspects of the program," he said.

After more than 100 offseason workouts and practices, Bonner hopes his team steps up to the line with confidence, despite the circumstances surrounding last season's conclusion.

"Obviously, that was a topic," he said. "But I think we have a lot of great kids in Tamaqua, always have. We tried to emphasize that we've got to kind of lift each other up. We've got to support from seniors supporting freshmen to sophomore supporting juniors and everyone kind of supporting one another."

While parents and community members spoke out against the Tamaqua Area School Board and its handling of the incident last fall, Bonner said the community has remained supportive of the football program. 

The Blue Raiders' first game is Friday night at 7 p.m. at Northwestern Lehigh.

Want to see what was in news in 1983? Head on over to WNEP's YouTube.

Before You Leave, Check This Out