SOUTHBRIDGE (AP) — An executive of one of two youth football programs penalized after a lopsided game in which five players suffered concussions is defending his team.

Rob Philion, vice president of the Southbridge Pop Warner program, read a statement at a Wednesday news conference. He said the Tantasqua team, whose players were injured, had the responsibility to stop the Sept. 15 game if they didn’t have the required number of players to safely continue.

The Tantasqua coach has said Southbridge players targeted his, and referees didn’t interfere. He acknowledged breaking the minimum-player rule, but said it’s been loosely enforced.

After a hearing last week, the Central Massachusetts Pop Warner League suspended both teams’ coaches for the season and permanently banned the three game referees.

The players who suffered concussions missed some school. Most have since been medically cleared for football.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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