Haverhill High School’s football program resumes this year and all off-season preparations are underway as planned.
Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta made the declaration last Thursday, attempting to tamp down rumors in the midst of hazing allegations and prosecutions stemming from incidents last fall.
“One of those rumors is that we are not going to have a football team next year at Haverhill High School, and that rumor is totally unfounded. We recognize the importance of sports to our students and we are committed to having a football program moving forward,” she said.
The superintendent said in the interim, all necessary off-season tasks such as equipment management, scheduling and conditioning programs, are being handled appropriately.
Marotta said she could not discuss specifics of pending court cases, because the investigation is still ongoing.
“During the course of the last month and a half, we have found the scope and magnitude of this investigation to be much larger than we expected, further emphasizing the need for us to not waiver in our efforts and to thoroughly investigate and forge a path forward in repairing the damage that has been done,” she said, reading from a statement.
In November, the school’s football season came to an abrupt halt after the alleged hazing of a high school freshman. That incident, involving reported lewd behavior by some members of the football team, was recorded by bystanders and the videos spread throughout the student body and beyond.
Coach Timothy M. O’Connor, Assistant Coach Michael J. Kwegyir-Attah and Jesse J. Rodriguez were arraigned last month in Haverhill District Court and ordered by Judge Sarah Joss to return to court Feb. 9. Forty-eight-year-old O’Connor, and 27-year-old Attah were each charged with intimidating a witness and failing to file a mandated child abuse report. O’ Connor was also charged with failing to file a hazing report. Eighteen-year-old Rodriguez was charged with assault and battery, hazing and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older at Haverhill Stadium.
Marotta said decisions about coaches and captains will be made as soon as possible and the school community will be involved in helping select those leaders.
Marotta thanked those who have shown support since the incident and asked the community to be mindful of the space needed by those affected, especially the victims.