HERRIMAN — High school football in Utah has been in the spotlight after a spate of player and coach suspensions, and Herriman High School is the latest to make suspensions.
Herriman is hosting Westlake for Herriman's homecoming game Friday, but the Mustangs will be three players short.
Three juniors violated team rules and have been suspended for the rest of the season. It's a tough penalty, but James Birch, principal at Herriman High, believes it was the right call to make.
"There is a statement that talks about what is expected of an athlete at Herriman High School, and we had some young men violate team rules. They were dismissed from our football team," Birch said.
The principal wouldn't give specifics about what the players did, but he said it was serious.
"We are trying to teach them self-discipline. We are trying to teach them to work as a team, to set goals and to be a better productive person in society," Birch said.
Birch also believes the school has a duty to stand up to wrongdoing.
"What other institution affects society as much as the schools do? We directly affect the quality of life in our community, what we prepare here goes out in our community," Birch said.
Birch said he knows as well as anyone what losing players to discipline halfway through the season can mean for the team and the players themselves, because he was a coach himself for more than 20 years.
"That is one of the pleasures of being a coach is getting that letter from the kid ten years later saying, "Thank you. This lesson that you taught us has worked well for me in my life'," Birch said.
It's a tough lesson for these three players, but they will get another chance. Since the players are juniors, Birch said that they can try out for the football team again next year.