PAYSON, Utah (ABC 4 News) – A volunteer coach is facing child abuse charges for taking the game too far and allegedly tackling a player from his son’s opposing team.
Nate Harris was arrested and bookd on suspicion of second degree felony child abuse for his actions last Saturday during a game between Payson City Football League and Mapleton City Football League.
The score was tied in the last regular game of the season. Payson’s star half back has the ball and is running down Mapleton’s sideline when Harris allegedly stepped out onto the field and knocked down the 13-year-old player with his forearm.
Payson City’s assistant cheerleading coach Nicole Clements remembers it this way. “The 7th grader had the ball and was running out of bounds; no he wasn’t even out of bounds. The coach was standing off to the side and cocked back and cold clocked him with his hands,” said Clements.
The referee says the player was running out of bounds.
David Durrant told ABC 4 News, “The Mapleton coach was standing there. He had plenty of time to move but he didn’t he just raised his arms and struck a blow back at the Payson player.”
In or out of bounds, those who saw it say it was intentional.
“It looked malicious to me,” said Durrant. “I don’t know if it was premeditated but it certainly looked intentional to hit a kid.”
Detective Sergeant Lance Smith of the Payson Police Department reviewed the tapes. He said, “When you look at the video you can see…there’s no concern for the well-being of the child. He doesn’t walk over to see if he’s alright. He doesn’t show concern or anything. He just backs away from him and stands there.”
The hit is so hard the player suffers a concussion. Nate Harris is ejected from the game and is later arrested.
Clements said, “I was really saddened that a grown adult could do this to a little boy, a little boy.”
After Harris is ejected the game continued and Payson won by a field goal in overtime, but by then no one was celebrating.
Durrant said, “As we had the overtime coin toss I asked the kids if they were having fun and none of them were and that was a big disappointment to me.”