A North Texas high school football coach has been cleared of bullying allegations made by the parent of a player on a team that lost to the undefeated team 91-0.
The father of a Western Hills High School football player filed an official bullying complaint after Aledo High School defeated the Fort Worth school 91-0 on Friday.
Under state law, Aledo's principal was required investigate the complaint and prepare a report. The complaint was filed with the school district, which the law requires to provide bullying complaint forms on its websites.
The Aledo school district said in a statement Wednesday that it had reviewed the parent's complaint and determined that bullying did not occur. Superintendent Derek Citty said Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan and his coaches "acted in an honorable manner."
"It is abundantly clear that prior to the game being played, Coach Buchanan visited with our opponent’s head coach and discussed a variety of ways to keep the score as low as possible," he said. "This communication continued throughout the contest, with a variety of strategies being used to keep the score under control. Unfortunately, even with these strategies, the score still ended up at a place neither school would have wanted."
Buchanan told NBC DFW on Monday that he started substituting players in the first quarter. He also said the game clock ran continuously starting toward the end of the third quarter.
He said his team did not simply start kneeling the ball because telling his players to not play hard because they're ahead is "against every fundamental coaching strategy that you have."
Buchanan told NBC DFW that he and his fellow coaches did exactly their best to keep the score down.
"In actuality, we probably could have scored a lot more," he said. "We did try to keep it down. I was really fearful that we were going to score 100."
The head coach of Western Hills told NBC DFW on Monday that he not think the Aledo coaching staff bullied his players.
The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school sports in Texas, has a mercy rule for six-man football that ends a game when one team gets ahead by 45 points by halftime or later but does not have one for 11-man football. However, the UIL also said coaches can agree to end a game early -- an option Buchanan was not aware of, he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The UIL follows NCAA rules, but most other states follow guidelines of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said Bob Colgate, the federation's director of sports and sports medicine.
Colgate said many of the federation's 48 member states and the District of Columbia have adopted a mercy rule in 11-man football. He noted that a survey published in February found that 16 states reported using a mercy rule with point margins, which are set by individual states, ranging from 30 points to 50 points.
The undefeated Aledo Bearcats have made a habit of soundly defeating their opponents this season. After seven games, the team is outscoring the opposition 485-47. The Bearcats' average victory margin in four district games is 77 points.
The blowouts are due in part to Aledo's placement in a new district that has not been as strong in football.
In Friday's game, the Bearcats ran just 32 plays but scored on about every third one. Aledo rushed for 391 yards. It scored eight touchdowns on the ground, two each on passes and punt returns, and one on a fumble recovery.
Western Hills had 79 yards rushing and 67 yards passing.
NBC DFW's Ben Russell and The Associated Press' Betsy Blaney contributed to this report.