High School football is very important to the residents of the small New Jersey town. Subsequent to a school board meeting, Superintendent Richard Labbe announced on October 6th that he was forfeiting the final five games of the Bombers’ 2014 season. The accusations which led to the decision are serious, and may result in criminal charges. An alleged account of hazing has divided the small town of Sayreville.
Seven football players, ages 15 to 17, are accused of assaulting four freshman boys. Labbe said there was credible evidence that the actions took place. Now the town is of Sayreville is divided between those who believe what was reported and those who do not.
Sayreville has 42,700 residents. War Memorial High School is well known in the northeast as a perennial power. Their coach, George Najjar, has led the Bombers for 20 years; three of the past four years they have won the state sectional title, and earlier this year Coach Najjar was elected to the New Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The coach had ‘no comment’ about the alleged assaults. He is 62 years old, and there exists the possibility of his termination.
An anonymous tip to the police was then relayed to Labbe. The alleged assaults were called a ‘ritual.’ The lights would go out for 10 seconds; a freshman boy was grabbed and held down on the ground by the older players. The boy was lifted to his feet as the lights came on again. A finger was inserted into his rectum, and then occasionally placed in his mouth.
The seriousness of the alleged violations, and the penalties for their acts, could result in lengthy punishment for the boys. If they are tried as juveniles and convicted, they could receive five years in a comparable facility. If they are tried as adults for aggravated assault, they could receive as many as 20 year in prison. Charges could also be brought against New Jersey’s anti-hazing law. Ages could factor into the court’s decision; one of the boys was reportedly only 13 years old.
Tommy Nagle owns a hot dog stand on Main Street, and is an avid fan of the Bombers. Friday he said he felt lousy because there was ‘no game tonight.’
Many of the town’s residents are calling for more severe action, including the firing of Coach Najjar. A youth football coach was dining at ‘Big Wally’s Sub Shop.’ The subject of discussion among the diners was football. The coach stood, pounded his fist on the table, and loudly said that the Athletic Director all the way down to the Assistant Coaches should be fired.
Team supporters have used social media to claim that the charges are lies, and the seven boys arrested are the ones being abused.
Anthony Porcaro is a 6-foot-3, 255 pound lineman on the team. He is a junior and one of the team’s top college prospects. He tweeted that ‘the players are the ones being bullied.’ He said there was no proof because it didn’t happen. He claimed that there was no hazing, and that the coach always accounted for and watched the freshmen.
Co-captain David Rodriguez wrote that ‘his senior year had been taken from him.’
Nagle, owner of the hot dog store believes something happened but the school board rushed to judgment.
Bryan Fisher is a regular customer at Nagle’s. He told Nagle that ‘you’ve got to take out the trash sometimes.’ Nagle said ‘there is no trash.’ Alleged hazing by players at War Memorial High School has divided the small town.
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