Prosecutor Says Player's Actions Went Beyond Game

Prosecutor Says Player's Actions Went Beyond Game

Probable cause statement says Platte Co. R-III player ripped the helmet off an opposing player and struck him in the head with it.
(PLATTE CITY, Mo.) In football, big hits are usually celebrated.

But some say what happened in a game in Platte City last month crossed the line.

"What happened was not football, it was an assault," said Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd.

Colin Byrd, 17, of the Platte County football team is accused of ripping off the helmet of a Winnetonka High School player's helmet and hitting him in the head with it during a game in October.

"We know that all sorts of things happen even where flags are thrown for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct," Zahnd said. "Those are not going to result in criminal charges."

Zahnd says as a result of the hit, the player Byrd allegedly struck suffered a severe concussion and now, nearly a month later, still hasn't been cleared to return to school.

"We know high school football players accept a level of violence and physical contact as part of the game," Zahnd said. "But our allegations allege this was not part of the game of football."

Coaches in St. Joseph say they drill into their kids that once the whistle blows, it's time to turn the aggression down.

"No trash talk, nothing physical, nothing," said St. Joseph Central head coach Jeff Wallace. "You turn around and get yourself back to your team. It's just respect. To do anything other than that is disrespect for the game."

Benton head coach Matt Tabor agrees that discipline is important.

"In the game of football we teach about tenacity, physicality and aggressiveness and finish guys. At the same time, the most important thing we teach on a daily basis is character values, integrity and you represent your school," he said.

Zahnd says a deciding factor in filing charges in the case against Byrd was what the referee calling the game said afterward.

"In his more than 20 years of officiating high school football, he's never seen something like this happen," Zahnd said.

The assault charges are a Class A misdemeanor and if found guilty, Byrd could face up to a year in jail.
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