Principal: Confederate flag, racial slurs spark conflict at high school football game

DENVER -- Manual High School in Denver released a statement to parents Saturday regarding an "extremely concerning" event that allegedly took place at a football game on Friday night.

"Last night, the Weld Central High School team, which has a Rebel mascot, displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the game, offending many members of the Manual community," principal Nick Dawkins wrote.

"We asked them to remove the flag and they did so. However, the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field.

"Three of our players were injured during the game, including a student who suffered a concussion and a student who was transported to the hospital for a leg injury.

"I want to emphasize that the players received treatment and will be fine. In addition, some of our players reported that, when tackled, players from the opposing team taunted them with racial slurs."

The statement goes on to say that officials want to assure parents that "symbols of racism and hatred, and racial slurs, ought to have no place in athletics or in any part of our students’ experiences."

Denver Public Schools also posted the letter on Saturday night.

An official with DPS said any students injured against Weld Central High School were during the game.

The next steps in the investigation are being taken, according to the letter, though it's unclear what those steps might be.

Dawkins said he does not know of any similar incidents when the high schools played last year.

The Rebel mascot resembles a Civil War-era soldier, leading some to associate the mascot with recent racially charged disputes over the flag.

"Weld Central's rebel mascot used to appear with depictions of Confederate flags, but the district removed the flags years ago," Weld Central Re-3J School District superintendent Greg Rabenhorst told the Greeley Tribune.

He said he's not sure when the flag was taken down.

Two petitions are being circulated regarding the Rebels mascot. One seeks to abolish the mascot, the other calls for the mascot to remain, according to the Greeley Tribune.

Some fans and parents from both high schools said the events didn't happen as described in the principal's letter.